Since the start of 2017, the number of international passengers arriving at Ovda airport near Eilat from Europe has risen by 33%, while the number of flights has risen by 27%. Most of the flights to and from the Red Sea resort are operated by low-cost carriers. Irish carrier Ryanair has the largest market share with 31.7% of the flights followed by Ural Airlines (19%), Russia Airlines (8.1%), Hungary's Wizz Air (7.1%), KLM - Air France's Transavia (5.7%), Finnish national carrier Finnair (5.1%) and the UK's Monarch (4.1%).
The number of weekly flights in the coming winter season is expected to increase dramatically to 88 flights per week. Ryanair, Wizz Air, Finnair, Ural Air and Monarch have all announced that they will be expanding their operations to Eilat while Scandinavian carrier SAS is introducing flights to Stockholm, Ukraine Air will launch Kiev flights and Russia's Rossiya FV will compete on the Moscow route.
The Ministry of Tourism is encouraging tourism to Eilat by paying the airlines a small fee for each foreign tourist that they bring to Ovda. However, one factor stifling tourism to Eilat is the high cost of living in Israel, which is exacerbated for foreign tourists by the strength of the shekel.
Ovda airport and the domestic airport in Eilat itself will be replaced next year by the new Ramon Airport at Timna, 18 kilometers north of the resort. The airport was scheduled to be completed this year but the opening was put back so that a longer runway could be built enabling jumbo jets to land and take off.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 26, 2017
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