The EL Al airline will fly from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi next week, with US and Israeli delegations on board to mark the normalization agreement signed Aug. 13 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
No official date for this first flight of the Israeli national carrier between its base in Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion and Abu Dhabi airport, a trip already made in the opposite direction twice by Etihad Airways (to bring medical equipment Palestinians). El Al has not confirmed whether it is indeed one of its planes that will be used for this historic flight, while Saudi Arabia has still not officially authorized the opening of its airspace to such a path.
The plane would carry only American and Israeli officials, according to the AP agency. Among the former are Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Middle East Envoy Avi Berkowitz and Iran Envoy Brian Hook; in the second delegation, Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and representatives of several ministries including « the directors of the ministries of foreign affairs and defense and of the national aviation authority ».
Recall that El Al is not supposed to resume commercial flights until next October, as travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic have all but halted traffic to the country. A decision taken « in view of the restrictions still in force concerning the isolation of most travelers arriving in Israel », she explained last week, specifying that the unpaid leave of 6,080 employees will be extended until the same date in less. Currently, it only operates freight flights.