British carrier Virgin Atlantic will increase the frequency of flights to Tel Aviv after the UK placed Israel on the ‘green list.’ The airline will operate daily flights from June 14th and up this to twice-daily flights during the summer.
Virgin ramps up Tel Aviv flights
The UK is set to open up international travel for leisure travelers from May 17th, with a traffic light system of green, amber and red countries. With Israel placed on the green list, travelers will not be required to quarantine upon arrival in the UK.
Virgin Atlantic has responded by upping the number of flights between London (Heathrow) and Tel Aviv. Under current plans, Virgin will operate daily flights from June 14th and eventually increase the frequency to two flights a day over the summer. The airline has not yet settled on a firm date for its twice-daily flights.
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said,
“Virgin Atlantic remains committed to the Israeli market and will soon offer twice-daily flights between Ben Gurion Airport and Heathrow Airport, alongside seamless connections to key US cities such as New York and Los Angeles, via London.”
A surge in bookings for Virgin
Nicholas Bettles, Country Manager of Israel at Virgin Atlantic, noted a sharp surge in bookings on May 8th. This came just one day after the UK government confirmed its traffic light list, including Israel on the green list.
“We welcome the news that the UK Government has placed Israel on its ‘green’ list recognizing the excellent vaccination progress in both countries. [This] paves the way for a travel corridor between the UK and Israel.”
The Tel Aviv-London route became Virgin’s third-most booked route across its network after the UK’s announcement. Bettles stated that 68% of the bookings were for flights in May and June, demonstrating “the level of pent-up demand for London in the market.” Virgin canceled all flights between the UK and Israel in March 2020 before resuming services in September. Presently, Virgin operates four flights a week on its Tel Aviv-London route.
Israel placed on EU safe list
There was further good news for Israel after the European Council recommended opening Europe up to Israeli tourists. The country was added to the EU’s ‘safe list’, which allows tourists from certain countries to travel freely throughout Europe. However, the safe list is not legally binding, with member states still able to implement their own restrictions if they wish.
Travelers will also be able to visit Israel from May 23rd onwards, according to certain requirements. Vaccinated or recovered travelers in tour groups from 14 countries will be allowed in. These countries are the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Israel has benefited from perhaps the most efficient vaccination program across the world. The country leads the world in vaccination rates, with over 60% of its population already receiving two jabs. With less than 100 new COVID cases a day, much of the country is back to pre-pandemic life. Israel’s coronavirus cabinet recently approved a plan to lift almost all restrictions at venues like gyms, swimming pools and sports stadiums.
Do you plan to travel to Tel Aviv or another city in Israel this summer? Feel free to share your travel plans in the comments.