New Turkish Airlines to Offer Charter Flights Between Israel, Antalya

In wake of Sky Airlines collapse, and as demand grows, new airlines examine Israeli market; El Al waits for Civil Aviation Authority to resume flights to Istanbul.

New Turkish airlines are expected to begin offering charter flights between Israel and Antalya, given the high demand for the line following the collapse of Turkish charter flight company Sky Airlines.

The Turkish players who would be competing against the airlines that currently ply this route include the company Tailwind, among others. They are examining the market in partnership with Israeli travel agencies.

There is growing demand for charter flights to Antalya. Currently, there are 25 flights from Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport to the Turkish resort town every week, 50% more than there were last summer.

Half of the flights carry Russian tourists vacationing in Turkey who come to Israel for a one-day visit.

According to the Israel Airports Authority, 45,700 tourists flew between Antalya and Ben-Gurion in May, a 37.7% increase over the figure from last year.

This year, some 73,700 people have plied the route – a 40% increase compared to the figure for January-May 2012.

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

In June 2010, the month after the Mavi Marmara incident off the Israeli coast in which nine Turkish activists were killed, El Al announced that it would not implement the code-sharing agreement on the Tel Aviv-Istanbul route that it had signed with Turkey's Atlas Jet airline.

In addition, the Shin Bet recently approved the renewal of cargo flights to Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines 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.