Abu Dhabi's Etihad Announces Direct Flights to Israel With Ad Featuring Second Temple

Direct flight will start March 28 and will be timed to connect with Etihad services to and from China, Thailand, India and Australia, state-owned carrier says ■ Airline removes video hours later

Reuters
Haaretz
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An Etihad plane stands parked at a gate at JFK International Airport in New York, March 21, 2017.
An Etihad plane stands parked at a gate at JFK International Airport in New York, March 21, 2017. Credit: Lucas Jackson/ REUTERS
Reuters
Haaretz

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said on Monday it would start daily flights to Tel Aviv in March after the United Arab Emirates and Israel's established formal ties this year.

Flight will start March 28 and will be timed to connect with Etihad services to and from China, Thailand, India and Australia, the state-owned carrier said in a statement.

In a video on Twitter, the airline shows a member of cabin crew presenting a quick guide to the city of Tel Aviv. In the video a small graphic image reads "Second Temple" which appears to be an attempt to mention the country's rich archaeological treasures, though the temple itself was destroyed in 70 CE. Hours later the video was removed.

A screenshot from Etihad's video announcing direct flights to Tel Aviv featuring an icon representing the Second Temple.

The announcement comes as the aviation industry faces its worst-ever crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wrecked air travel demand.

Etihad has slashed jobs and pushed forward with plans to shrink into a mid-sized carrier focused on carrying passengers to and from Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

Abu Dhabi does not allow non-residents to enter the emirate at its airport, and has not said when that coronavirus-related restriction would be lifted. Neighbouring Dubai allows foreign visitors to enter.

State-owned flydubai will launch direct flights to Tel Aviv this month, while Dubai's airport operator has said El Al, Israir, Arkia will start Tel Aviv-Dubai services in December. Etihad, flydubai and Israel's El Al have operated charter services between the UAE and Israel in recent months.

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