Prospects Abound for New U.K., Domestic Flights

British Midland Airways (BMI) is ready to become the second discount carrier to fly between the U.K. and Israel. TheMarker learned yesterday that Transportation Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman discussed the idea with the airline's heads at the Paris Air Show. Thomsonfly was the first carrier to receive approval earlier this month. BMI is the U.K.'s second-largest carrier after British Airways, with a 12 percent market share of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport in London. Israeli and U.K. officials met in February to discuss expanding the number of carriers between the two countries beyond El Al and British Airways as part of Israel's new open skies policy.

Locally, a month after suspending flights to the North, the Transportation Ministry is holding a closed tender to reopen the route to Rosh Pina but not Kiryat Shmona. Tamir Airways, which operated routes to both Rosh Pina and Kiryat Shmona, halted flights last month due to a business dispute with the operator of the Kiryat Shmona airfield. Tamir also asserted the ministry had not met the conditions of the tender. That dispute is now being played out in court. The new plan calls for the ministry to subsidize the reopened route to Rosh Pina.

The tender's winner would operate the line until legal proceedings on the current dispute are completed, allowing for a new formal tender to be issued. Tamir officials expressed shock over the announcement, saying they would operate the Rosh Pina line if they received the subsidy.