Israir Launches Vaccine & Antibody Only Domestic Flights

Tel Aviv-based carrier Israir is launching a pilot program for certain domestic flights in line with Israel’s ongoing coronavirus vaccination efforts. Specific services between Tel Aviv and Eilat will only be available for passengers who have received a vaccine, or those who have antibodies having had and recovered from COVID-19.

Israir A320
Airbus A320s make up more than half (4/7) of Israir’s current fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Vaccine and antibody-only flights

According to Israel Hayom, Israir Airlines is preparing to commence a series of COVID-secure domestic flights. These special services will operate between Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) and Eilat Ramon Airport (ETM).

The pilot program for these vaccine and antibody-only flights may commence within a week, with Israir reportedly targeting Tuesday as a launch date. They will initially operate on a weekly basis, with tickets costing 141 shekels ($43).

To travel on one of these services, passengers must present a ‘green passport.’ This document will certify one of two things.

  • That they have been vaccinated against coronavirus.
  • That they have had and recovered from COVID-19, and now have antibodies against it.
Israir Airbus A320
Israir’s COVID-secure flights will initially operate weekly. Photo: Riik@mctr via Flickr

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Israir chose Eilat as the destination for its vaccine and antibody-only flights as the Israeli government has already permitted the city’s hotels to reopen. It will also ensure that all crew members onboard the flights in question have received a vaccine.

Israir in a nutshell

Flag carrier El Al is comfortably Israel’s largest airline. However, Israir has a good case for the honor of being the second largest. According to Planespotters.net, its seven aircraft make up a slightly larger fleet than its compatriot and Airbus A321LR launch customer Arkia (five aircraft).

Israir Airlines was initially founded in 1989 under the name ‘Knafei HaEmek,’ before assuming its current identity in 1996. Alongside its four Airbus A320-200 aircraft, as pictured below, it also operates three ATR72 turboprops. However, moving forward, there are suggestions that it may become an all-Airbus A220 airline, like Latvian flag carrier airBaltic.

Israir Airbus A320
Israir’s Airbus A320s have worn several different liveries over the years. Photo: Christopher Lorenz via Flickr

The last few months have been crucial in supporting Israir’s growth in the face of the ongoing pandemic. For example, September saw it become the first airline to fly a direct commercial flight from Israel to Bahrain. Then, last month, it announced that it had partnered with Etihad to make use of its simulators in Abu Dhabi for additional pilot training.

Emirates crews also widely vaccinated

Like Israir, Dubai-based UAE flag carrier Emirates has also stepped up its vaccination efforts among its staff. This culminated today, on one of its services between Dubai and Los Angeles. EK215 was the first Emirates flight where every employee involved was vaccinated.

This didn’t just include onboard crew members, but also extended to check-in, security, lounge, and boarding gate staff at Dubai. All in all, an impressive 70 vaccinated staff members were involved in making the flight happen. However, this represents a mere drop in the water when one considers the total number of Emirates staff that have now been vaccinated. Reportedly, this number is as high as 26,000.

What do you make of Israir’s new vaccine-only policy on certain domestic flights? Have you ever flown with the Tel Aviv-based carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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