Discount carrier Ryanair seeks entry to TA market

European discount carrier considers flight to Tel Aviv as El Al raises fares by 4%

el al logo 88 (photo credit: )
el al logo 88
(photo credit: )
Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, is examining options to operate regular flights to Israel from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and center of Europe, the Tourism Ministry said Wednesday, even as El Al announced plans to raise fares by 4%. Ryanair, which operates 516 routes from 26 cities in 23 countries across Europe, determines charges for each destination based on the length of the flight. One hour of flight time on Ryanair costs €20-€30, so a one-way ticket to Israel from Europe is expected to cost travelers € 60-€120. Benny Berger, head of new destinations for the carrier was in Israel for the third time last week and met with Israel Airports Authority heads, senior officials at the Tourism and Transportation Ministries, as well as with representatives of the handling companies that operate in Israel. "The Tourism Ministry aims for the continuance of the 'open skies' policy and for the removal of the barriers to the flow of tourists into Israel such as raising the number of available seats on flights from countries that constitute a large tourist market," Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Wednesday. "Ryanair's interest in Israel is an important and meaningful achievement indicating faith in the Israeli tourism product and can attract more companies and visitors." Recently, several airline companies have received permits to begin operations in Israel as part of the new "open skies" policy. Among those are the British low-cost carrier Thompson Fly, the French discount carrier New-Axis and veteran British carrier BMI. Ryanair's entry to the local aviation market is conditioned upon Israel's signing of the European Aviation Agreement, a matter that is currently handled by the Transportation Ministry. After joining the European Aviation Agreement, more European airline companies will be able to operate in Israel, the Tourism Ministry statement read. The possibility of yet another low cost carrier entering the local market comes as the country's flagship carrier El-Al said it would raise ticket prices by some 4% on January 1. It blamed the hike on the continued erosion of the dollar's rate compared with the strengthening of the shekel rate as well as higher costs. "A wave of prices increase in the world and in Israel together with the devaluation of the American dollar, force us to update our prices," EL AL vice president commercial and aviation relations Rami Levy said Wednesday. Meanwhile, on Wednesday British Airways removed Israel from its "area under war" list and added it to the carrier's list of the recommended vacation destinations. "British Airways brings business and private passengers to Israel all year long. Being part of the company's sale campaign helps market Israel as a desired tourist destination," said British Airways Israel managing director Yael Katan.