Stock - Tel Aviv airport
The Tel Aviv Airport will be buzzing with activity as more flights land in from the UAE. Emirates will launch its services next month. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: With Emirates announcing the launch of Tel Aviv bound services from early next month, passenger traffic on the UAE-Israel sector is seeking a fresh beginning after the COVID-19 created curbs.

Business travel related to the Expo 2020 is already underway after visa-free travel was reinstated earlier this month. Demand will get another push once the travel corridor between UAE and Israel goes into effect.

On Sunday, the Israeli consulate in Dubai announced that a ‘green corridor’ had been established between UAE and Israel, allowing people to travel freely between the two countries. “That should actually help proper movement incoming and outgoing as well,” said a UAE-based travel agent. “Israel is one place where a lot of people travel during this particular time – so, we should have another [high-performing] tourist route from Tel Aviv to UAE.”

The source added that UAE-based travellers, who usually frequent places such as Maldives, Armenia, Georgia, and Zanzibar, never had Israel on their destination list before due to the COVID-19 restrictions. “Once this corridor opens, you will definitely have people coming in - when they opened it for a brief period earlier, we saw a lot of movement.”

After the signing of the Abraham Accords last year, Israel and UAE announced visa-free travel to facilitate the movement of tourists, diplomats and businessmen. However, after a spike in COVID-19 cases, UAE suspended the arrangement.

Flights were again interrupted in May last amid escalating tensions in that part of the world. Etihad airways, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and flydubai – cancelled all passenger and cargo flights for a while.

Finally, the breakthrough

Apart from the obvious boost to trade and tourism, the easing of COVID-19 linked restrictions on the UAE-Israel route again opens up a new set of opportunities for airlines. “El Al Israel Airlines is very pleased that the visa waiver agreement is in place and is expecting greater demand for travel between the two countries,” said an airline spokesperson. “El Al will augment the schedule of flights as demand grows and is confident the flights to Dubai will be successful.”

Flydubai too has welcomed the resumption of visa-free travel. “flydubai welcomes any announcement that eases the current travel restrictions in place,” said a spokesperson. “We remain committed to providing safe and convenient travel options for our customers”

Tourism chances

Tourism in UAE and Israel too will get that end-of-year high. During a visit to the Israel Pavilion at Expo 2020, Israeli Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov told Gulf News that it would be hard to estimate the tourist numbers. “Since the signing of the Accords, thousands of Israelis have visited the UAE,” said Razvozov. “Their interest in the country is genuine and they come back impressed by what they’ve seen. The flight takes only a couple of hours - so I’m confident that we will see even bigger numbers of tourists.”

Fare prospects

A flight from Dubai to Tel Aviv is priced between Dh580-Dh1,100, while from Abu Dhabi it will be Dh500-Dh900. Ticket rates are expected to fall as airlines add capacity.