Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. is stepping up operations at Haifa Airport by doubling the number of its roundtrip flights to and from Eilat on weekends. Israir currently operates eight flights on the route.
"We plan to double the number of our flights from Haifa. As soon as Sde Dov Airport closed down, residents in the Hadera-Netanya area who previously traveled to Sde Dov in order to fly to Eilat started looking for an alternative. The best alternative for them is traveling to Haifa, getting free parking there, and flying to Eilat. Haifa Airport has the same features as Sde Dov, without the masses of people and the parking problems at Ben Gurion Airport. The preflight procedure is quick and simple. The consumers also realize this. We'll double the number of flights from Haifa and also launch bargain flights," Israir VP sales and marketing Gil Stav told "Globes."
Flights between Eilat and Haifa take one hour and 10 minutes. Given the short preflight procedures at Haifa Airport, it is worthwhile for people living in Hadera or further north to prefer Haifa Airport to Ben Gurion Airport.
Haifa Airport also has dozens of flights to Cyprus and Greece every month. Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem requested the lengthening of the runway at Haifa Airport in order to increase its activity and develop tourism in the area.
Stav said that the average price of flights between Haifa and Eilat was NIS 360 in each direction. In order to buttress the route, however, Israir is offering a bargain price of NIS 199 in each direction for those ordering through Israir and NIS 99 in each direction as part of its cooperation with the Fattal hotel chain for people reserving a hotel through it. In addition, people landing at Ramon Airport, including on flights from Ben Gurion Airport, will be offered a free shuttle to Fattal hotels in Eilat. This bargain is valid in July, and Stav says that it will probably be continued in August.
"We are in touch with hospitals in Haifa for cooperation in which patients residing in Eilat will receive treatment there. Now that Sde Dov has been closed, Eilat residents have an alternative for treatment with a direct flight to Haifa," Stav says.
As part of the struggle against the closure of Sde Dov Airport, Eilat Mayor Yitzhak Halevi complained about the high price that Eilat residents receiving frequent medical treatment in central Israel would pay as a result of flights being moved from Sde Dov to Ben Gurion Airport. In order to make things easier for patients, Sheba Medical Center is offering shuttles traveling on a shorter route from Ben Gurion Airport for people landing there.
Israir also has plans for developing its flights to Cyprus. At this stage, flights to Larnaca and Paphos that formerly operated from Sde Dov have been moved to Ben Gurion Airport, but Stav says, "This is also a channel that we are considering developing at Haifa Airport."
Before Sde Dov Airport was closed down on July 1, when efforts were still being made to postpone its closure, Israir and Arkia marketed tickets from Sde Dov to Eilat with flight dates after July 1, with consumers being given an option to either get a refund if the airport closed on time, which indeed happened, or move their flight to Ben Gurion Airport. Stav says that most of the ticket buyers agreed to move their flights to Ben Gurion Airport, while 15% asked for a refund.
At this stage, all of Israir's flights to and from Eilat (30% of all the flights to Eilat, with Arkia accounting for 70%) have been moved to Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion Airport. "We tried not to cut flights drastically in order avoid any harm," Stav explains. "It's still too early to say what will happen. We'll consider the future supply and demand and make our decisions accordingly."
"Globes": Did you cut prices for flights from Ben Gurion Airport?
Stav: "Israir's prices from Ben Gurion Airport were already lower than price at Sde Dov, and we left them that way. The average price for an Israir flight from Ben Gurion Airport was less than NIS 200, and still is."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 4, 2019
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