El Al subsidiary Sundor will operate its first flight to Rwanda in December in conjunction with an Israeli travel agency that is organizing a package holiday to the African nation. It will break new ground for the Israeli airline, having never headed down to Kigali before.
El Al subsidiary heading to Rwanda for Hannukah
Earlier this week, a report in The Jerusalem Post said that the flight during Hannukah would take 120 passengers down to Rwanda for an “unforgettable experience.”
Outside of Israel, Sundor is a little known holiday and charter brand wholly owned by El Al. Sundor has one plane of its own, a Boeing 737-800 (registration 4X-EKR). El Al carries out many of the on-going day-to-day tasks involved in keeping the aircraft in the air (including maintenance).
Sundor says it operates to 40 destinations around the Mediterranean Basin, Africa, and Europe. Although with just one plane, that must be a big ask. A search of Sundor’s website for today, November 12, suggests no flights are operating, although helpfully, it does say everything is running to schedule – as you might expect when nothing is running!
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Rwandair started flying to Israel in 2019
Last year, Rwandair began flying between Kigali and Tel Aviv, running a thrice-weekly Boeing 737-800NG service.
“Adding Tel Aviv to our network is part of our long term plan to link Rwanda to the rest of the world,” said Yvonne Manzi Makolo, Rwandair’s CEO, at the time.
“It will also be a great opportunity to ease travel and strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries.”
Those flights got put into hiatus earlier this year when Rwandair suspended its international flights. Some of those services are only now resuming, but Tel Aviv is not yet back in the Rwandair timetable.
Israir also eyes Rwanda
Alongside the one-off Sundor flight to Rwanda next month, Israir is also starting to run some flights between Israel and Rwanda. Israir states they are both a tour company and the second biggest airline in Israel.
According to planespotters.net, Israir has seven planes, comprising three ATRs and four Airbus A320-200s. All seven planes are presently in service. Israir’s website advertises Kigali flights, but you cannot book a stand alone flight. However, it will allow you to book a return flight on specific dates, the down flight in late November and the return flight in early December. The website also states;
“Despite the final approval given by the Director of Civil Aviation, the flight date may change. The flight is awaiting ticket approval.”
While Israel’s airlines are dipping their toes in Rwanda, they aren’t establishing regularly scheduled flights. That’s understandable given border restrictions in both countries. Israel’s borders are generally closed to non-citizens. Rwanda has resumed international air travel, however, its land borders remain closed.
Israel allows its citizens returning from Rwanda to skip the otherwise compulsory 14-day quarantine period after arriving back. Given there’s a limited number of countries Israel is giving the quarantine free pass too, this may be spurring the small spate of ad hoc flights between Israel and Rwanda.
But, if you’re keen, the tour operators behind the Sundor Rwanda charter promise and “in-depth acquaintance and experience that has never been seen before.” Sounds like fun.