Arab Israelis Head to Turkey and Sinai for the Id al-Adha Festival

Charter flights to Turkey up from eight to over 20 a day; most land crossing closed on Tuesday.

The most popular vacation destinations for Arab Israelis celebrating the Id al-Adha festival are Antalya, Sinai and Taba. The Israel Airports Authority, which is also responsible for land-border crossings, says over 3,000 worshipers have crossed the Taba border crossing into Egypt since Monday morning, en route to holy Muslim sites in the Sinai Peninsula.

The IAA says it prepares for these periodic events and makes an effort to make crossing the border as quick as possible.

The border crossings at Nitzana, Taba and the Allenby Bridge will be closed for 24 hours during the feast of the sacrifice, in accordance with agreements made between Israel and the governments of Egypt and Jordan. 

The airport authority suggests that anyone planning to cross a border check the hours of operation at their desired crossing. The Taba crossing will be closed until 10:00 P.M. Tuesday. The Allenby Bridge will be closed all day Tuesday, until midnight.

The border crossing at Taba is usually open 24 hours a day, and used primarily by Israelis or tourists on their way to relax in Eilat, or en route to the Sinai Peninsula, as well as pilgrims touring Christian holy sites. In 2012, nearly a million people used the Taba crossing.

A new service has become available to individuals using the Taba crossing, which allows them to make duty-free purchases upon leaving Israel, and collect them upon their return.

Turkish charter airlines have increased the amount of flights taking off from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Antalya, Turkey, which is historically a popular destination during Id al-Adha. KTA International CEO Shai Pardo,
representing Turkish charter airlines in Israel, said that airlines such as Corendon Airlines and Onur Air have tripled the amount of daily flights from Ben-Gurion airport to Antalya, in response to the increased demand created by the Muslim holiday.

According to Pardo, the number of daily flights from Israel to Antalya has increased from 8 to between 20 and 25. The wave of tourists are departing between October 13 and 16, and returning between October 18 and 21.
The planes servicing these flights include the Airbus A-320 and A-321, which contain 180 and 220 seats, respectively, as well as the Boeing 737-800, with 189 seats.

According to IAA data, Antalya was the second-most visited international destination from Israel in August, with roughly 87,000 passengers flying from Tel Aviv to the Turkish coastal resort. That figure represents a 52.6% increase over August 2012.

Antalya was only bested by Paris, which was the destination for over 111,000 passengers from Israel in August, a 6.8% increase from August 2012. 

Alon Ron