Israir, which already operates inland flights from Haifa to Eilat, will now launch direct international flights from Haifa to Larnaca in Cyprus. Starting on December 23, Israir will operate weekly flights on the route: on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The flights will take 50 minutes.
Israir will use ATR planes with a capacity of 70 passengers for the route. Roundtrip fares on the Israir website start at $84, with a $30 charge for a suitcase of up to 23 kilograms. Prices for a package including hotel start at $250.
What should passengers take into consideration? Haifa Airport is much smaller than Ben Gurion Airport, and even smaller than the now closed Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv. Parking at the airport is free, and the pre-flight procedure is quick, requiring passengers to arrive at the airport only one hour before takeoff.
Israir will continue its direct flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Larnaca. Israir CEO Uri Sirkis says that prices of flights from Haifa will not necessarily be cheaper than from Ben Gurion Airport, and points out that prices vary with the season and for individual flights. He states that Israir will add flights to Paphos and Rhodes ahead of the Passover holiday. According to Sirkis, the planes used on the route reflect the drop in demand for flights to Eilat.
Israir has already begun using Haifa Airport as a municipal airport in place of Sde Dov, which was closed down on July 1, 2019. The closure of Sde Dov, after which Eilat flights were shifted to the Ben Gurion Airport-Ramon Airport route, was followed by a decline of over 30% in demand for inland flights to Eilat. This decline did not affect the hotels in Eilat; the number of vacationers there during both the summer and during the autumn Jewish holidays was the same as in the preceding year. It is clear that many Israelis are choosing a different mode of transport for travel to Eilat, mainly private vehicles.
Israir currently operates 25% of its flights to Eilat from Haifa Airport. Sirkis says that the operating cost for the company of inland flights from Haifa is the same as from Ben Gurion Airport - airport fees are cheaper, but bringing in crews is more expensive, "and the cost is therefore the same," he explains. As for the international flights, he says that Israir's operating costs for flights from Haifa are lower.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 5, 2019
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