Sun D'Or Boosts Portugal Route

Sun D'Or, El Al's charter flight subsidiary, will begin operating a new series of direct flights between Israel and Portugal during the summer months.

This development follows the tourism agreement Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov signed Monday with his Portuguese counterpart Bernardo Trindade. Upon signing the agreement, the ministers undertook to promote tourism activity between the two countries.

Under Sun D'Or's plan, a total of ten charter flights will be operated between the two countries from July 3 until mid-September on Boeing 757 planes, which can seat 215 passengers. The airplanes are far larger than the 737-800 models Sun D'Or first began using on this route last year, which can seat just 140.

Traffic from Portugal to Israel will cater primarily to Christian pilgrims, while the planes heading from Israel to Portugal are expected to be used mainly by Israeli vacationers. The agreement aims to increase tourism traffic between the two countries, while expanding joint activities in the area of medical, rustic and Christian-religious tourism.

According to the Israel Airports Authority, Sun D'Or flew 368,500 passengers in 2009, up about 2% from the year before. El Al's subsidiary grabbed a 3.5% share of the total international air travel market to and from Ben-Gurion Airport in 2009.