Israel, France Agree to Increase Number of Scheduled Flights

Agreement will allow additional airliners to operate routes from Tel Aviv to new French destinations.

Israel and France have signed an agreement allowing additional airlines to operate scheduled flights between the two countries, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday.

The agreement would allow airlines from Israel and France to fly between Tel Aviv and any destination in France. To date, airlines were only allowed to operate flights between Tel Aviv and a limited number of French destinations.

The new routes may be operated by airlines other than El Al and Air France, although only one airline from each country will be authorized to operate each route. In order to prevent coordination between the two airlines operating each route, and ensure competition, the sides agreed to explicitly forbid the airlines from coordinating prices, capacity, and schedules.

In 2006, some 732,000 people traveled between the two countries, including 242,000 French tourists who came to visit Israel. The French tourists filed several complaints regarding the high ticket prices, which resulted from a lack of comptetition.

According to Transportation Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman, the agreement will permit the operation of direct flights to Nice by one of the Israeli airlines [such as Arkia and Israir] given that El Al does not currently operate flights to Nice."