By Victor Shalton
EgyptAir Replaces Air Sinai on Flights to Tel Aviv After 40-Year Hiatus
The first-ever Egyptair commercial flight to Israel landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, Oct. 3. The Egyptian national carrier will now run four weekly round-trip commercial flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo.
The flight covers a distance of just 245 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 80-85 minutes in each direction. EgyptAir will use an Airbus A220-300 for the route.
Sunday’s flight was greeted with the traditional water canon salute in celebration of the historic event.
The listing of direct flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv comes after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s meeting three weeks ago with Israeli Prime Minister in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The two leaders discussed the latest developments concerning the peace process in the Middle East, according to various sources.
Egypt was the first Arab country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel after signing the 1979 Camp David peace treaty. Flights between the two countries have been offered by a subsidiary of Egyptair, called Air Sinai in unmarked planes without the Egyptian flag.
The history here is that in 1979 when Egypt and Israel signed a historic peace treaty, this signaled that the two countries could introduce an active civil aviation route.
However, the treaty between Egypt and Israel wasn’t entirely popular in the Arab world, so Egypt sought a rather uncommon strategy that served as a way of downplaying relations between the countries.
This marked the inception of Air Sinai in 1982 which operated flights exclusively between Cairo and Tel Aviv.
The EgyptAir subsidiary operated a fleet of two unmarked Airbus A220s that actually belonged to EgyptAir. Air Sinai operated these flights on a wet lease basis, meaning that the planes and crews were both provided by EgyptAir.
The airline also had its own code and flight numbers, rather than using the “MS” designator for EgyptAir, Air Sinai instead used “4D” as the airline code.
After the Abraham Accords were signed last year and the inauguration of flights to Israel by other Arab airlines such as Emirates, Morocco, Sudan and last week Bahrain’s Gulf Air, EgyptAir decided to come into the open about its flights to Israel, as yesterday’s flight touched down at Ben Gurion Airport and was greeted like an inaugural flight on a new route.
Meanwhile, according to an economic and social development plan submitted by Egypt’s Ministry of Planning to the parliament, the country’s flag carier EgyptAir will procure nine aircraft by the end of 2023.
Egypt Today reports that eight of those will be acquired via the airline’s current lease set-up, including four that will be received in 2022.
The plan also includes the construction of a new airport terminal with capacity estimated to be four million passengers per year at Alexandria’s Borg Al Arab airport.
The civil aviation sector will be allocated $591 Million for the 2021-22 financial year