The first-ever direct commercial flight to Israel from Bahrain is set to land Thursday afternoon at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The flight by Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national airline, will land in Israel at 12:15 p.m. and will be greeted with a ceremony attended by senior officials from the aviation industry. The flight kicks off Gulf Air’s new biweekly route, which uses the company’s new Airbus fleet.
The two-hour, 50-minute flight will run on Mondays and Thursdays between Tel Aviv and Manama, Bahrain’s capital city. Flights during the coming months are listed online starting at around $550 round-trip.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of our Bahrain-Tel Aviv route as part of the historic Bahraini-Israeli relations,” Gulf Air Acting CEO Capt. Waleed Al-Alawi said. “As the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, we take great pride in supporting our leadership and the Kingdom in their role of preserving peace and prosperity in the region. We hope this is merely the beginning of developing further opportunities.”
The route was originally expected to launch in June, but increased coronavirus travel restrictions made that unfeasible.
El Al and other Israeli airlines have not yet announced routes to Bahrain.
Since the Abraham Accords normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last year, Israelis have witnessed a number of “historic” first fights.
Flights to Dubai began last November, while a direct route to Abu Dhabi launched in April. In July, El Al and Israir both launched their first flights to Marrakesh, Morocco, following the normalization of ties.
In October, a delegation of Israeli and American officials flew to Bahrain in the first direct flight between the two nations to sign an agreement establishing diplomatic relations. Thursday’s flight is the first for commercial passengers.
Trade relations between Israel and Bahrain have increased since the Abraham Accords were formalized, but at a much slower pace than those with the UAE. Trade between the two countries grew from zero to some $300,000 during the first seven months of 2021, compared with more than $600 million of trade with the UAE during the same period, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
It is expected that many Israelis will use Bahrain as a connecting point to reach other more popular destinations, such as the Philippines, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.