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Low-cost airlines easyJet and British-based bmi will shortly start serving Israel too. The director-general of the Transport Ministry, Gideon Siterman, is flying to London today to meet, separately, with the leaders of the two companies, to finalize details of their local operations, TheMarker has learned.

The executive of no-frills airline easyJet will be presenting their terms of entering the Israeli market to Siterman, after which the director-general will be reporting to the public committee in charge of Israel's Open Skies policy, which he chairs.

He will also be meeting with the chairman of bmi (British Midland Airways), which has become the second-biggest airline in Britain, second only to British Airways. The chairman called Sitterman last week, asking for a meeting to hear about the Transport Ministry's policies on aviation.

Bmi has a 12% share of all takeoffs and landings at Heathrow Airport in London. It has a 42-plane fleet of relatively new jets, and runs 1,700 flights a week.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Israeli and British officials over aviation policy hit a snag last week. Avner Ovadia, who handles public relations at the Transport Ministry, explains that the U.K. officials couldn't promise mutuality for Israeli carriers.

Environmental policy

Earlier this month easyJet announced an environmental code, pledging to be more efficient when aloft and on the ground. The no-frills airline says that its three green vows listed in its Corporate and Social Responsibility Report will help balance aviation's social and economic contribution with its impact on climate change.

easyJet CEO Andy Harrison noted that the aviation industry is responsible for only 1.6%  of global greenhouse gas emissions, and called for honest debate on the sector's environmental impact. Grounding the airlines would barely affect the problem, yet it would have vast economic import, he argues. Airlines should become as efficient as they can, but governments must support them with incentives, he claims.

He also claimed that because of its efficiency, easyJet emits 27% fewer greenhouse gases per passenger kilometer than traditional airlines flying the same route. In addition we recognise that we can and we will expect more of our ground suppliers at airports.