London great 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Vacationing in Eilat is about to get a lot easier for tourists coming from England and France. Israir and Sun D'or Airlines are opening non-stop service to the southern city from London and Paris, respectively, with one of the carriers announcing it will begin service next week.
Israir, which last week reported a 25 percent increase in passengers from London, will begin non-stop flights to Eilat in the first week of November. The airline will fly once weekly between the English capital and Eilat, using a single-aisle Airbus A320.
Sun D'or, meanwhile, will now fly passengers to Eilat once a week from Paris, a route that will enter service October 28. The flights are part of packages offered by the Isrotel hotel chain, with guests now able to leave Paris' Charles De Gaulle Airport Sunday morning and arrive in Eilat without a stopover in Tel Aviv.
On their return trips, French tourists will check-in for their Paris flights at one of Isrotel's eight Eilat hotels, with guests returning to the French capital on Sunday afternoons. The Sun D'or jet being used for the route, dubbed the Isrotel Sun Express, can carry up to 220 hotel guests. A second plane of equal size will be added for the "Sun Express" flights during the winter's busier travel periods (near Christmas and in February) and during Pessah.
For English travelers, the Israir flights are just one of several new ways of getting to Israel. In addition to non-stop service to Eilat, November will also see the start of service to Tel Aviv by low-cost carrier Thomson Fly, which will take off for Ben-Gurion Airport from both London and Manchester.
In addition to its new Eilat flights, Israir is hoping to become a stronger presence on the Tel Aviv-London route, reporting that it will request permission to double its flights between the two cities from three to six each week.
Lufthansa achieving record numbers on Israel route
The year 2007 is on pace to be Lufthansa's best ever in Israel. The German carrier announced last week that it had flown a record number of passengers between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt in the first nine months of the year, up to nearly 314,000 travelers between January and September. The company has enjoyed a 5.6 percent increase overall in worldwide business this year, and the rate of growth on its Tel Aviv route is even better, up 12.99% as compared to the first nine months of last year.
Traffic increased significantly for nearly all the foreign carriers serving Israel in the first three-quarters of 2007, according to statistics recently released by the Israel Airports Authority. The majority of airlines have enjoyed double- and even triple-digit growth over the same period a year ago, with just Arkia and Air Canada losing business among the major carriers.
El Al's numbers are up 0.95% for the year so far - modest growth, but reflecting a market share still nearly six times that of its nearest competitor.
While it's been a record year for Lufthansa flights to Tel Aviv, the airline has been second in size among foreign carriers serving Ben-Gurion. Onur Air, the Turkish charter company, has flown more than 517,000 passengers to and from the airport since January, though Lufthansa remains the largest scheduled foreign carrier operating in Israel.
The German company is likely to close the gap significantly by the end of the year, however, with tourist traffic to Turkey expected to slow considerably now that the summer vacation season is over.
Most important for Lufthansa, though, is that its seats have been filled as never before on flights to Tel Aviv - leading the company to request permission to start flights between Ben-Gurion and Munich next summer.
Israel to join at OECD tourism committee
Israel has been accepted on an ad-hoc basis to join the tourism committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Representatives of the country's Tourism Ministry will participate in the committee's next meeting in November, which will take place in Paris and deal with subjects including security and how to gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
The invitation is being trumpeted by the tourism minister as a significant step forward for Israel's tourism industry. The ministry's director-general, Shaul Zemach, praised the decision to include Israel in the organization's next tourism meeting, saying it brought with it "enormous potential" to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Israel. OECD membership is restricted to economically competitive democracies, though it provides expertise to more than 100 non-member states.
The OECD Ministerial Council invited Israel to join the organization as a permanent member in May. Accession talks are expected to conclude next year.
'Refresher courses' for Ben-Gurion flight controllers
More than three dozen of Ben-Gurion's air traffic controllers will complete "refresher courses" by the end of the month, the Israel Airports Authority reported last week. The courses come in the wake of a series of near-misses at the airport since the start of the year, and were organized in accordance with recent recommendations made by visiting investigators from the US Federal Aviation Administration.
As part of the classes, flight controllers will spend two days reviewing safety procedures and airport protocol, with the courses to make use of both written material and simulations of crisis and routine situations.
Israelis topping Europeans in online check-in
Israeli travelers are proving themselves savvier than their European counterparts in using the Internet. British Airways reported last week that one-third of passengers flying out of Tel Aviv used the airline's online check-in service between July and September, a 40% increase since May. The rate of Internet check-ins was higher than in any country in Europe, with the airline reporting a worldwide online check-in rate of 25%. Israelis' use of BA's online check-in system has gone up 500% in the last two years, the airline reports.
British Airways currently allows passengers to check in for flights up to 30 hours in advance, including connections Israeli travelers can catch at the airline's hub in London.