From mid-December more than 60 weekly flights are scheduled on the new route between Tel Aviv and Dubai in each direction operated by El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL), Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd., Arkia Airlines Ltd. and low-cost UAE airline flydubai. In other words, over 9,000 passengers will be traveling in each direction each week.
flydubai leads the way and will begin operating daily flights from tomorrow. The UAE carrier originally scheduled two daily flights but it has already increased the frequency to three daily flights.
From December 1, Israir will operate 15 flights each week as well as charter flights for Eshet Tours, which will lift the number of weekly flights to 18. Two days later Arkia will join the fray with two flights each day and on December 13 El Al will also begin operating two daily flights.
The question is whether there will be enough demand to fill all these flights and justify the enthusiastic plans of the airlines. There is no question that Dubai is an attractive destination that stimulates the curiosity of Israeli travelers for whom the UAE was not previously accessible.
The destination probably has everything that the Israeli tourist is looking for. Beaches and amusement parks (with abundant winter sunshine), breathtaking skyscrapers, shopping, a relatively short flight (three and a half hours), and return flights from just $300.
On the other hand, this is a strictly conservative Arab Muslim society that expects tourists to respect the rules from not consuming alcohol outside of bars and restaurants to dressing modestly in public and discreet behavior by couples in public. There are no casinos and disruptive behavior is not tolerated.
Another major reason why there is a mad rush to travel to Dubai is that it is defined by the Israeli government as a 'green' low-infection destination that does not require self-isolation when retuning home. The only other such countries at the moment are the Seychelles and Rwanda.
Israir VP sales Gil Stav said, "On the one hand there are not many destinations that it is possible to fly to on vacation, and on the other hand the need for Israelis to go abroad for a vacation after the lockdown and restrictions is only increasing. All this combined with being a destination that is literally hot gives the indication that December - January will justify all the flights planned to operate on the route. This is a country that was closed until now for Israelis and there is now a combination of many things that will reflect high demand. We see this in the rate of bookings, which are mostly packages that combine flights and hotels. I estimate that in February the traffic will moderate."
Israir has also brought forward the launch of its Tel Aviv - Manama (Bahrain) flights from January 31 to December 30. Bahrain will also be an interesting destination for Israelis and it is relatively more liberal than the UAE.
Arkia International CEO Oz Berlowitz also thinks that curiosity will feed demand. "An intriguing destination has been opened up, which has everything including business opportunities. There is a combination of desert with a city vacation and the options of different price level accommodation, from four stars close to the sea for $100 per night per couple through to amazing resorts on the white sands. Dubai has everything including the glitz that Israelis love. The rate of bookings is high and we identify two main segments: independent tourism for individuals and organized groups such as business incentive trips, courses and conferences."
Both Berlowitz and Stav expect return flight fares to remain at the $300 level although they may rise around Christmas - New Year when there is very high demand from Europe.
UAE capital Abu Dhabi remains off limits for the time being because tourists must self-isolate for 14 days, enforced by a bracelet that visitors must wear.
It should also be stressed that travel insurance is compulsory for those entering Dubai and incoming tourists may be asked to show their insurance policy on entry, including Covid-19 health insurance.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 25, 2020
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