El Al starts nonstop flights to Brazil

El Al Airlines has begun flying nonstop to Brazil three times a week. El Al is operating a Boeing 777-220 on the new route between Israel and Sao Paulo with connecting flights to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Company president Haim Romano calls the service a "bridge between Latin America and the Holy Land." Israel's tourism ministry says more than 31,000 Brazilians visited last year, up 55 percent from 2007. In all, an estimated 200,000 South Americans travel to Israel each year. El Al spokesman Renato Aizenman says the first flight arrived in the South American country early Sunday.