Though low-cost carriers were expected to be the big winners of the Open Skies
agreement, legacy airlines are adapting and taking advantage of the flexibility
in the aviation market as well.
Lufthansa this week announced that it
would introduce six flights to Ben-Gurion Airport, adding three flights each to
its hubs in Munich and Frankfurt.
While an increase in low-cost flights
was a challenge, Lufthansa was moving to a more narrow-bodied fleet and hoped to
sell its broader international reach, using its hubs to connect vacationers and
business travelers to far-reaching destinations.
According to Tal Muscal,
head of Lufthansa’s communications in Israel, Open Skies offered such airlines
Previously, the number of landing slots a given airline
could obtain was limited by bilateral trade agreements. The Open Skies agreement
could actually help those who can compete expand their presence as the barriers
are being taken down.
“With the implementation of the Open Skies
agreement between the European community and Israel, Lufthansa can offer its
customers, whether business people or tourists, a wider variety of connecting
flights to destinations all around the world,” said Lufthansa Israel CEO Karsten
That said, it has been low-cost airlines that have made headlines
in recent weeks as they ramp up their connections to Israel.
easyJet announced a route from Tel Aviv to Milan, its third such announcement in
less than a month, following routes to Berlin
and London Gatwick.
Tel Aviv-Milan route is a direct result of the historic Open Skies agreement
between the EU and Israel that recently came into force,” the company said in a
In late November, El Al announced a new low-cost carrier,
to compete with the influx of discount airlines on the market.