Etihad Operates Historic First Flight To Israel

Etihad Airways today made history operating the first flight by a United Arab Emirates Airline to Israel. The flight carried 14 tonnes of urgent medical supplies bound for Palestine.

Etihad Airways, Tel Aviv, First Flight
Etihad Airways today operated a historic flight to Tel Aviv. Photo: Etihad Airways

The current pandemic has seen its fair share of record-breaking flights. However, today saw the first known flight of an airline registered in the United Arab Emirates that has ever touched down in Israel, according to Reuters.

The historic flight was carrying medical equipment such as PPE and respirators. The United Nations arranged for 14-tonnes of such aid to be transferred from the United Arab Emirates to Palestine.

The flight’s details

Tracking today’s flight to Tel Aviv proved to be tricky indeed. While has a record of an Etihad flight touching down in Tel Aviv at 21:12 local time, the flight-tracking service appears to have no history of the actual flight.

However, FlightAware does seem to have been able to track the flight. The service shows a path for the plane from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, albeit with a break in signal in the middle. The aircraft was reported as leaving Abu Dhabi (AUH) at 18:03.

Etihad Airways, Tel Aviv, First Flight
The aircraft operated the first flight by a UAE airline to Tel Aviv. Photo: GCMap

The flight-tracking service then shows the aircraft flying up through the Persian Gulf, before flying over Kuwait, Iraq, and either Syria or Turkey (this part of the flight was not tracked), before flying a very undirect Southernly route across Cyprus and down to Tel Aviv.

The flight landed in Tel Aviv (TLV) after 4-hours and 11-minutes at 09:14 local time. FlightAware confirmed to Simple Flying that the aircraft utilized was A6-EYP, an Etihad Airbus A330.

A historic flight

The United Arab Emirates, along with many Middle Eastern nations, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel. As such, commercial flights don’t operate between the two countries. However, in December 2018, we reported that Oman had opened its airspace to Israeli flag carrier El Al. In recent years, the ice between Israel and the Middle East has been gradually thawing.

El Al celebrations getty images
It seems as though relations between Israel and the UAE are starting to thaw where aviation is concerned. Photo: Getty Images

Today’s flight could show a further thaw in relations between the UAE and Israel specifically. The trip was the first known to have been operated to Israel by a United Arab Emirates airline. Could this pave the way for future flight operations? That’s something we can’t answer.

The current pandemic has prompted no end of historic flights, including the world’s longest domestic flight recorded by French Bee late last week.

A cargo of medical aid

According to Reuters, the United Nations has organized for a shipment of Medical aid, including PPE and ten respirators, to be sent from the United Arab Emirates to Palestine.

An Etihad spokesperson told Simple Flying:

“Etihad Airways continues to operate many humanitarian flights providing much needed aid to nations within its network and beyond. Many Etihad passenger aircrafts are being utilised for belly-cargo only to deliver commercial freight and other supplies across its global network. Etihad Airways operated a dedicated humanitarian cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on 19 May to provide medical supplies to the Palestinians. The flight had no passengers on board.”

What do you make of today’s historic flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.