Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz has authorized the Arkia and Israir airlines to operate direct scheduled flights from Eilat to Moscow for the first time, reports www.local.co.il. The approval, which is expected to lead to a significant increase in Russian tourism to Eilat, follows an agreement signed between Israel and Russia in November 2008 that allows both countries to begin running scheduled flights directly between the two cities. Until now, only charter flights have operated between Moscow and Eilat. According to the report, the agreement allows each country to operate six direct flights per week between Moscow and Eilat, a total of 12 scheduled flights per week. Russia is reportedly organizing its national carrier, Aeroflot, to carry out its flights. Mofaz said that allowing Israir and Arkia to operate the flights from Israel would increase the competitiveness of the airlines, would help meet the great demand for direct flights to Eilat, and would significantly increase the number of tourists visiting the Israeli vacation city.