Delta Airlines, which renewed its daily flights from Atlanta last year, said it was interested in starting a daily flight from New York to Tel Aviv.
In a meeting with Tourism Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovich at company headquarters in Atlanta, Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein and its manager for international routes Andreas Renner said that based on the success of the Atlanta route, they were interested in starting flights from JFK Airport in New York by the start of 2008, the Tourism Ministry said.
A final decision by the company is expected shortly after which a request will be made to the Israel Transportation Ministry for a license to fly the route. Delta currently operates flights on a code-share basis with El Al on its three flights a day to New York .
Entering the New York route alone would bring a new player to the busiest route into Israel as it would compete with El Al, Continental with its twice daily flights, Israir which flies daily and other foreign airlines that offer connections to New York .
Boost for Druse-Circassian villages
The Tourism Ministry has embarked on a program to increase the number of guesthouses in Druse and Circassian villages in the Galilee. The ministry said it aims to establish 320 new guesthouses over the next three years and is offering to cover 24 percent of the financing costs of the new establishments. Such an undertaking, it said, would cost the ministry NIS 8 million by 2009.
"There is great potential for tourism in Druse and Circassian villages that has not been sufficiently satisfied," Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said. "We are talking about attractive hospitality for both foreign tourists and local vacationers."
The ministry appealed to the Druse and Circassian communities to make proposals for assistance from the government stipulating that the new guesthouses should come equipped with television and air-conditioning in the rooms and have signs in three languages.
Tourism Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovich will head a team to examine the requests, which must be presented by February 15.
Campaigning for winter in Eilat
The Tourism Ministry and the Eilat Hotels Association have launched a campaign to boost tourism to the Red Sea resort. Under the slogan "Low prices to Eilat," the campaign claims there is an opportunity to take advantage of dramatically lower prices to be found in the city in the winter months. The ministry said 10 hotels have partnered to offer accommodation at between NIS 200 and NIS 500 per night. The campaign will run through the middle of February at a cost of NIS 700,000, shared equally by the ministry and the association.
BA ups in-flight entertainment to TA
Passengers on some British Airways flights on its Tel Aviv route already have access to the airline's "Audio Video on Demand" in-flight entertainment system.
The AVOD system presents a choice of over 200 movies, TV channels, children's programming, 70 listening channels and around 20 interactive games, BA said. Each product is available in all its cabin classes except for the interactive gaming, which is not available in economy class because it requires a handset, a spokesperson for the airline said.
BA started roll-out of the new in-flight entertainment lineup around November beginning with its Boeing 767 aircraft, which it uses on the London-Tel Aviv route. Some of its morning flights out of Tel Aviv and evening flights from London come equipped with the system. Its entire long-haul fleet is expected to be equipped within a year and a half.
Separately, BA reported last week it had over 100% growth in the number of Israeli passengers using its online check-in facilities and its online ticketing service in 2006, well above the average in Europe. The airline said, as of October, some 13% of its passengers on the Tel Aviv-London route make bookings for flights on its Web site. In addition, two-thirds of those go on to use the electronic ticket provided online. British flies two daily flights between London and Tel Aviv.
Lufthansa lowers fuel charge to Europe
Lufthansa has dropped its fuel surcharge on flights from Tel Aviv connecting to European destinations outside Germany. The airline, which uses wide body A340-600 and B747-400 on each of its two daily flights to Frankfurt, said it was scrapping the additional $20 charged on each leg for connecting to Europe. Lufthansa said the surcharge now stands at $60 for each leg from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt and beyond.