Despite High-profile Drug Arrest, Israel-Russia Air Traffic Remains Steady

Close to 85,000 people traveled between the two countries in December, with Russian carrier Aeroflot only reporting a minor drop in traffic

Billboard bearing portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli-American Naama Issachar, Tel Aviv, December 12, 2019

There has been no change in the number of Israelis flying through Russia, despite the diplomatic row over the high-profile drug conviction and continued detention of Israeli citizen Naama Issachar. Neither are Israeli travelers through Russia deterred by the short-term detention of dozens of them in the wake of diplomatic tension.

Israel Airport Authority data from December indicates that air traffic to and from Russia continued apace, with some 84,800 people flying between Russia and Israel that month.

It’s possible that air travel hasn’t been affected by the incidents because most pre-purchased tickets were nonrefundable.

Russian carrier Aeroflot, the main airline plying the Moscow-Tel Aviv route, reported a minor 3% drop in traffic for December.

In its end of the year report, Israel's Airports Authority said some 24 million passengers passed through Ben-Gurion International Airport in 2019, a 7.5% increase from 2018. Israeli national carrier El Al again had the largest portion of the traffic, with 5.83 million passengers, a 3% increase from 2018. Israeli carrier Israir ranked second, followed by Arkia.

Low-cost airline WizzAir is the largest foreign airline in Israel based on passenger traffic, with 1.28 million passengers passing through Israel’s main airport last year. It unseated Turkish Airlines, which had held the title for years.