American Airlines Is Back and Its Rivals Are Adding Flights on the U.S.-Israel Route

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American Airlines planes parked at Pittsburgh's airport during the coronavirus crisis.
American Airlines planes parked at Pittsburgh's airport during the coronavirus crisis.Credit: Gene J. Puskar / AP

American Airlines this weekend is resuming daily flights between New York and Israel – a high-demand market even if for now no tourists are coming from abroad. This summer, no less than 86 weekly flights are scheduled between Israel and U.S. destinations including New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago.

American Airlines, which abruptly ended service to Israel in 2016, will initially be flying 10 times weekly to various U.S. destinations. Starting on June 5, it will add three direct weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Miami, and from November 1, three between Tel Aviv and Dallas.

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This summer, United Airlines is expanding its number of weekly flights between Israel and the United States to 24 from 13. The first of its three weekly flights between Chicago and Tel Aviv will leave O’Hare International Airport on May 7. The first flight out of Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport to Chicago will leave on May 9.

In addition, United plans to step up its number of flights on its Tel Aviv-New York (Newark) route to 14 from 10 a week. On the Tel Aviv-San Francisco route, weekly flights will increase from June 4 to seven from three.

As coronavirus restrictions are pulled back and economies reopen, people are eager to travel, and competition between carriers has quickly grown intense.

“An airline war is on. We’re seeing people buying tickets,” said one airline executive. “If one airline increases its frequency, that’s a sign that its flights to that destination are full. It could be because of American Airlines, but it could be because [Israel] is the one place you can fly to safely.”

El Al Airlines, Israel’s flag carrier, isn’t sitting on the sidelines. Starting next month, it will increase its number of daily flights to New York to four from three, with its number of weekly flights to Los Angeles and Miami rising to five from three.

Delta Airlines is stepping up its flights to 14 from 10 a week starting on June 1. In September, in time for the High Holy Days, the company will add a third daily flight.

“We know that customers are excited about the prospect of returning to their pre-coronavirus lives, and for them that includes going back to flying,” said Esty Herskowicz, Delta Israel manager. “The U.S. is destination No. 1.”

A check of airfares for June flights to New York shows prices starting at $820. In July and August, starting prices are $1,000 as demand increases during the summer school vacation.

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