First Hot-air Ballooning License Granted in Israel's Southern Region

License awarded to private company specializing in balloning; venture hopes to cater to tourists.

A new pastime has been made legal in Israel: hot-air ballooning.

TheMarker learned Sunday that the head of the Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), Udi Zohar, has approved the first license in the country for flying hot-air balloons after a test flight last week in the Negev.

The license was awarded to Hot Air- Balloons Over Israel, the only company specializing in ballooning in Israel, owned by Moran Itzckovitc, a commercial pilot and mechanic.

As part of the approval process, he built a test facility in Arad, which the ICAA has approved for maintaining the balloons.

Plans are to fly in the Negev Desert, and Dead Sea and Arava regions, where weather conditions are considered excellent for ballooning. Itzckovitc hopes to cater to tourists with his new venture.

The price for a one-hour flight, with all the preparations, a breakfast and an after-flight celebration that all together take about four hours, is NIS 1,200 per person. The trips start at sunrise.