Following Arkia's recent announcement that beginning January 1 it would be terminating its daily flight route from Rosh Pina to Sde Dov, Labor MK Orit Noked has formally requested that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon act to prevent this from occurring.
Noked, who assisted on many projects for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev as part of her role in the Prime Minister's special sub-committee, insisted that this latest decision from Israel's major domestic airline could be very damaging for the region. She added that the closure of this flight route would block off a major artery for residents, investors and tourists of the Galilee.
"On the one hand we talk all the time about the importance of reducing the geographical distance between the North of the country and the center, while simultaneously we create edicts on behalf of the residents of these periphery towns which simply don't make sense," she said.
A spokesperson for Arkia told The Jerusalem Post that passenger demand had been consistently low and that due to 'financial considerations' the company had no choice but to cancel the flight route.
Noked, however, implored both Minister of Finance Ehud Olmert and Transport Minister Meir Sheetrit to take this matter seriously and offer economic support to the airline. She strongly believed that should Arkia's decision be implemented it could prove to be a fatal blow to the area, especially in light of the government's upcoming campaign to attract new residents to the Galilee. "One of the central considerations for people who are considering working or living in the area is whether or not there are good transport facilities," she noted.
When asked why she thought the airline should even consider keeping open a flight route when demand is so low, Noked replied, "Its all about potential consumer choice, and the government needs to consider the long-term repercussions."