swiss air 88 298.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Israeli and Swiss civil aviation authorities signed an agreement Tuesday to increase the number of flights operating between the two countries.
The agreement raises the number of flights each country's airlines can operate to 17 weekly flights from the 11 allowed on the current schedule and comes even in the face of the current lull in Israeli tourism.
El Al Israel Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines are the only carriers with scheduled status on the route and, therefore, exclusively will gain the option to increase their flights.
"The agreement is a vote of confidence in the route - that Tel Aviv-Zurich has been successful enough to warrant the added flights," said Avner Gordon, the Swiss country manager Israel. "At the moment, there is a decrease in demand from tourists so we will now evaluate the possibilities that it opens. What we have done is open the skies a little more."
Currently, El Al and Swiss each operate nine flights a week to Zurich and two to Geneva of which approximately 80 percent are on a code-share basis.
"This is another stage in the expanding operations of foreign airlines in Israel," said Gidon Siterman, director-general of the transportation ministry. "Increasing the number of flights will pave the way to increasing the number of tourists passing between the two countries."
The Ministry said approximately 400,000 tourists travel the route annually.
The parties did not say when the agreement will take effect.