Israel Looking to Renew Charter Flights to Turkey, Amid Ongoing Reconciliation Talks

Shin Bet, Turkish officials move closer to agreement on security arrangements.

Talks are under way between Israel and Turkey to renew scheduled and chartered passenger flights by Israeli airlines to Turkey. Israeli participants include representatives from the Shin Bet security service and the ministries of transportation and of foreign affairs.

The goal is to renew scheduled El Al Airlines flights to Istanbul and charter flights by Arkia and Israir airlines to Antalya and other resort destinations in Turkey.

The negotiations follow the Shin Bet's recent approval for the renewal of cargo flights to Istanbul. They were accelerated by the general warming trend in relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, most notably Tuesday's discussions in Jerusalem between Israeli and Turkish officials over Israeli compensation to the families of victims of the Israel Navy raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May 2010.

El Al recently applied to the Civil Aviation Authority a new scheduled route to Istanbul. The airline halted flights to Turkey in March 2007 after authorities there refused to comply with Israel’s security demands.

In June 1010, the month after the Mavi Marmara incident off the Israeli coast, El Al announced that it would not implement the code-sharing agreement on the Tel Aviv-Istanbul route it signed with Turkey's Atlas Jet airline.

Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airline are the only scheduled airlines currently flying between Ben-Gurion and Istanbul; Turkish charter airlines ply the Tel Aviv-Antalya route. As foreign airlines, these carriers are exempt from the Shin Bet’s strict security requirements.

The Civil Aviation Authority has approved daily scheduled flights starting June 19 by Pegasus between Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and Ben-Gurion International Airport.

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