Israeli Airlines Fear Security Dispute May Limit Flights to Dubai

El Al, Israir and Arkia urge the Israeli government to find a solution for a dispute over security protocols or else the number of daily flights to Dubai will be reduced

Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane
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An Emirates jetliner at the Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 2019.
An Emirates jetliner at the Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 2019.Credit: AP Photo/Jon Gambrell
Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane

Israeli airlines asked the government on Thursday to help them solve differences in security demands between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which may lead to a reduction of the number of daily flights between Israel and Dubai.

Unless the disagreement is resolved, as of next month Israeli airlines – El Al, Israir and Arkia – will not be allowed to fly to Israel from Abu Dhabi, the directors of the airlines said in a joint letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli.

As is stands, as of March 8 no flights from Dubai will be authorized by the Israeli Aviation Security Operations Center and the Shin Bet.

Until then, as an interim solution, three daily flights have been approved for the Israeli airlines, El Al CEO Avigal Soreq, Israir CEO Uri Sirkis and Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper wrote.

The solution, which would reduce daily flights from nine, was deemed “unacceptable," by the airline CEOs. "The interim solution to 'enable' the Israeli airlines to make three daily flights from Dubai will require cancelling hundreds of flights for which tickets have already been sold. In contrast, the UAE airlines will be able to carry out all their flights," they wrote.

“This is a discrimination against the Israeli companies," they wrote. "It eliminates competition, while trying to take over a market share in the guise of diplomatic considerations.”

According to letter the current situation was a result of giving in to the wishes of commercial bodies “which apparently have more influence than we do on their governments’ foreign policy.”

The first El Al flight to Dubai, in August 2020.Credit: Sivan Pereg

“We demand that the Israeli government stand firm and protect Israel’s commercial and national interests. Anything else would lead to the cancellation of tens of thousands of flight tickets already purchased by Israeli passengers, who could find themselves with no options,” they wrote.

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