DUBAI (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said on Monday it would start daily flights to Tel Aviv in March after the United Arab Emirates and Israel’s established formal ties this year.
Flight will start March 28 and will be timed to connect with Etihad services to and from China, Thailand, India and Australia, the state-owned carrier said in a statement.
The announcement comes as the aviation industry faces its worst-ever crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wrecked air travel demand.
Etihad has slashed jobs and pushed forward with plans to shrink into a mid-sized carrier focused on carrying passengers to and from Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.
Abu Dhabi does not allow non-residents to enter the emirate at its airport, and has not said when that coronavirus-related restriction would be lifted.
Neighbouring Dubai allows foreign visitors to enter.
State-owned flydubai will launch direct flights to Tel Aviv this month, while Dubai’s airport operator has said El Al <ELAL.TA>, Israir, Arkia will start Tel Aviv-Dubai services in December,
Etihad, flydubai and Israel’ El Al have operated charter services between the UAE and Israel in recent months.
(Writing by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Gerry Doyle)