Israel and Canada signed a new aviation agreement Wednesday aimed at increasing competition on Israel-Canada routes.
The pact, which was signed at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and his Canadian counterpart, Lisa Raitt, will allow additional flights between the two countries.
There are currently limitations on the number of weekly flights, and Air Canada and El Al Israel Airlines are the only two carriers that fly between the two countries. Canada and Israel are also entering into a new cooperation agreement on aviation security.
Air Canada currently offers one daily flight on the Tel Aviv-Toronto route. It also has the right to fly between Tel Aviv and Montreal, although there currently is no such service. In the past year, the carrier upgraded its equipment on the Toronto route to a larger aircraft, a Boeing 787. During the winter months, El Al has two flights a week to and from Toronto.
The new overall aviation agreement allows each country to give permission for additional scheduled airlines to fly between Israel and Canada and to allow up to 12 weekly flights, including cargo and passenger flights.
The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding designed to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience in a range of transportation sectors and to expand areas of cooperation related to public transportation, management of airports and seaports, and security for ground and water transportation.
A prior aviation agreement between Israel and Canada was rescinded more than a decade ago over disagreements between the two countries regarding the volume of flight traffic between the two. El Al, which has since been privatized, was a government-owned airline at the time, and the concern was that it would suffer from Canadian competition.
Since then, the air ties between the two countries have been strengthened by conversations between the heads of the civil aviation authorities in the two countries, who have sparingly doled out weekly flight slots and announced acceptable destinations.
About two years ago, an agreement was initialed that paved the way for the deal signed Wednesday. At the ceremony, Katz called Canada a “true friend of the State of Israel.”
In 2014, about 147,700 passengers flew between Israel and Canada, about 5% more than in 2013, the Israel Airports Authority reported.