15 December 2018 - 8 Tevet 5779 - ח' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ט

Airline competition to fly direct from Asia to Israel will now clearly be stepped up with the announcement that Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific will launch direct flights in March 2017.

The airline will begin operating four weekly flights on 26 March. Currently, EL AL Israel Airlines offers the only direct flight to and from Hong Kong. In April this year, China’s Hainan Airlines launched direct flights between Beijing and Tel Aviv, joining EL AL as one of only two airlines operating an Israel-China route. Korean Airlines also flies to Tel Aviv via Seoul daily.

Cathay Pacific will offer three ticket classes: tourist, business and a separate 28-seat premium economy department. Cathay Pacific has not previously operated in Israel. They have an arrangement through Tal Aviation, which is also the Israeli representative of Air Europe, Germania, American Airlines and Air Baltic.

Cathay Pacific’s new route will be subject to final government approval. As reported in the September 2015 issue of Jewish Times Asia, there are many other Asian carriers in the process of getting clearance to fly to Israel. These include Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Israel and Japan signed an aviation agreement in July 2015. Israeli and Japanese airlines will jointly operate up to 14 weekly flights in each direction. The new aviation agreement will allow for the introduction of a regular route between the two countries, although no official starting date has yet been approved. More recently, Singapore Airlines has also been in negotiations to fly between the two countries.

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