With Open Skies set to take effect, discount airlines thrive in Israel

The Open Skies agreement, approved in April and signed in June, opens up competition with Europe for runway space.

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December 5, 2013 23:49
1 minute read.
The Boeing 747-8 airliner after it landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday.

Boeing airplane 747-8(370). (photo credit: Yochai Mossi- Courtesy Lufthansa)

 
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With the Open Skies agreement set to take effect in 2014, low-cost air carriers continue to broaden their base in Israel.


The Open Skies agreement, approved in April and signed in June, opens up competition with Europe for runway space.


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On Thursday, easyJet announced it would open its seventh route from Ben-Gurion Airport, this time flying to London’s Gatwick Airport. Just two weeks prior, the airline announced a new route from Tel Aviv to Berlin.


Another discount airline, Budapest-based Wizz Air, on Thursday celebrated a year since opening its first Tel Aviv route.


In that time period, it has expanded to seven routes. The airline dubbed itself “an Open Air success.” It plans on increasing the number of seats on sale by another 25 percent by August 2014.


Even El Al got in on the action.


In November, just days before CEO Elyezer Shkedy announced his departure from the company, it unveiled a new discount airline called Up to compete with the increasing low-cost carriers. That airline will fly to five European destinations.




The Tourism Ministry estimated that the Open Skies agreement would result in an increase of 250,000 tourists from Europe to Israel in its first year of implementation.


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