UAE-based carriers Etihad Airways and flydubai have opted to cut their services to Israel for the time being. The decision comes amid rising hostilities in the country, which have already significantly impacted its air traffic. The airlines had only recently begun flying to Israel, following its establishment of diplomatic relations with the UAE last year.
UAE-Israel services suspended
Israel has recently been the scene of increasing tensions, culminating in violent rocket attacks that temporarily forced airport closures. Amid such security concerns, several airlines have opted to suspend their operations to the country in the interests of safety.
Among these are UAE-based airlines, including Etihad Airways, which is one of the country’s two flag carriers. According to Reuters, it will temporarily halt its passenger and cargo operations to Israel from today due to the conflict. Its booking engine suggests it is not set to fly Tel Aviv again until Wednesday, May 19th. Reuters quoted the airline in adding that:
“Etihad is monitoring the situation in Israel and continues to maintain close contact with authorities and security intelligence providers.”
The conflict has also impacted flydubai’s services to Tel Aviv. However, rather than temporarily suspending its Israel-bound operations altogether, it has instead reduced the number of services on this corridor.
Reuters reports that flydubai typically flies to Tel Aviv four times a day. However, this figure has now dropped to either two or three, depending on the day in question. The airline’s website suggests that the fourth daily flight will resume on May 19th.
A relatively new aerial corridor
While Etihad Airways is one of the Middle East’s largest and most prestigious carriers, it did not begin flying commercially to Israel until fairly recently. This is because it was not a country that the UAE established diplomatic relations with until last year. However, the new ties between the countries prompted a flurry of new routes from airlines at both ends.
Etihad operated its first flight to Israel last October, with a cohort of media and industry professionals onboard. As far as revenue-earning scheduled passenger services between its Abu Dhabi hub and Tel Aviv are concerned, these only commenced on April 6th.
As well as the respective countries’ flag carrier airlines, Israel and the UAE’s low-cost carriers have also got in on the act since the aforementioned establishment of diplomatic relations. Indeed, local budget airline flydubai operated a charter flight from Tel Aviv as early as November 8th, 2020. It then began scheduled services to Tel Aviv 18 days later.
US carriers take similar action
Etihad and flydubai are not the only airlines to cut their Israel-bound flights amid the present hostilities. Indeed, all of the ‘big three’ US legacy carriers (American, Delta, and United) made similar decisions earlier in the week.
American and Delta had been serving Tel Aviv from New York JFK International Airport before the suspension. Meanwhile, United’s cancellations affected Tel Aviv-bound services from Chicago, Newark, and San Francisco. Amid these difficult circumstances, the carriers in question have elected to waive flight change fees for the disrupted period.