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Monday,  May 20, 2024 9:19 AM 

Air Canada restores flights to Tel Aviv after six-month pause

  • Air
  •   04-11-2024  9:53 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Air Canada restores flights to Tel Aviv after six-month pause
(Air Canada)
Pax Global Media

Air Canada has resumed flights between Canada and Israel after a six-month pause. The airline restarted its Toronto and Tel Aviv route on April 9 and will offer four weekly direct flights.

Beginning in May, the number of flights from Toronto will drop to three, but it will add one weekly flight between Montreal and Tel Aviv.

Air Canada, like most international airlines, suspended its service to Ben Gurion International Airport on Oct. 8 after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas.

The Government of Canada is still advising to avoid non-essential travel to Israel due to the ongoing regional armed conflict and the unpredictable security situation.

READ MORE: Is Israel seeing a tourism reboot, despite the war? We asked the IMOT’s Gal Hana

In a statement to PAX in March, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said: “We have always said we intend to resume service to TLV, and we are finalizing the logistics at this point for a potential resumption in April.”

Since the conflict broke out, one of the few airlines to operate regular flights to Israel was El Al Israel Airlines, which, unsurprisingly, just posted record profits amid the war.

However, more major airlines have begun to restore connectivity to the Middle Eastern country, despite the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

United Airlines resumed its Tel Aviv flights last month, becoming the first U.S. carrier to do so. British Airways, ITA Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Aegean, Air France, Air Europa and Brussels Airlines have also returned to Israel.

A tourism reboot?

Is Israel seeing a tourism reboot, despite the war? PAX asked Gal Hana, consul for tourism and director for Canada at Israel’s Ministry of Tourism (IMOT), this question last month. 

“The demand for travel has resumed, despite the war, and it’s gradual and limited,” Hana told PAX in an exclusive interview at the time. “People are going [to Israel] because of faith and belief. They know how significant it is to travel and show support.”

ourists exploring the markets of Jerusalem in 2022. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

In January, Israel welcomed more than 20,000 travellers from the United States, which, in normal times, supplies more than one-third of Israel’s visitors, says the IMOT.

That same month, some 2,000 Canadians travelled to the country, Hana said.

“Some were Jewish, visiting relatives. Others joined the army because they are citizens. And some tourists saw an opportunity to change the world [and volunteer with relief efforts],” he said.

It’s a different tone compared to how things were going in the latter half of last year.   

Arrivals to Israel from Canada in 2019 sat at roughly 100,000, and in 2023, without the weight of COVID restrictions, Canadian traffic was trending just below that mark, sitting at 90 per cent of 2019’s figures (even with fewer direct flights).  

“The month the war started, we were closer to 100 per cent,” Hana said. “Our prediction was that Q4 of last year would be the best year and exceed 2019’s levels.”

In total, Israel welcomed 3.01 million tourism arrivals in 2023, marking an increase of 12.5 per cent over 2022, when 2.67 million visitors were recorded.

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