The UAE’s flagship carrier Etihad Airways on Monday conducted its first-ever direct commercial passenger flight from the capital of Abu Dhabi to Israel's Tel Aviv ahead of launching regular air traffic between the two countries.
"Today, we make history. Etihad has become the first Gulf airline to operate a passenger flight to Israel. And this is only the beginning," the airline said in its Twitter post.
The Etihad Boeing 787 has already arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported, adding that the flight has been conducted in cooperation with the Israel-based Maman Cargo logistics company.
According to the news outlet, the flight will then carry a group of tourism ministry officials, as well as media, travel and cargo agents for sightseeing the UAE, including its capital, at the invitation of the airline and representatives of Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry.
A warm welcome to the first ever commercial @etihad flight that has landed this morning at Ben Gurion International Airport. We are witnessing history in the making. Soon, there will be regular daily flights between Israel and the UAE,“ Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Arab media, wrote on Twitter.
Last week, the Israeli government and the parliament approved the country's accord on the normalisation of ties with the United Arab Emirates.
Following that, Israel’s and the UAE’s transportation ministries agreed on Sunday to sign an aviation deal to enable 28 weekly flights from the Ben Gurion airport to the Arab country's two main financial hubs – Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In addition, 10 weekly cargo flights between the states will be permitted.
The bilateral agreement is scheduled to be officially signed on Tuesday at the Ben Gurion airport.
Etihad recently launched a Hebrew-language version of its website to attract Israeli customers.