Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has been in Israel this week discussing the airline's major expansion plans for the country.
Ryanair has already announced in recent weeks the introduction of new routes from Tel Aviv to Athens, Thessaloniki, Sofia, and Bucharest. These four routes will bring to 15 the number of European destinations to which Ryanair flies from Tel Aviv while the low-cost airline also operates 15 routes from (Ovda) Eilat.
But according to O'Leary, this is just the start for Ryanair, which began flying to and from Israel in November 2015.
He said, "Israel has wonderful beaches and very good food. If we can offer reasonable prices then Israel with its weather and beautiful beaches can become a preferred destination. We can bring millions more to Israel. We can grow as fast as the authorities allow us to."
O'Leary asked Levin if Ryanair can set up a base in Israel to expand the numbers of routes it offers. He would also like to offer domestic flights - something which no other foreign airline has ever been allowed to do and asked for more early morning slots out of Ben Gurion airport.
O'Leary said he would charge about NIS 40 for Ben Gurion - Eilat flights compared with the NIS 150 or more charged by Arkia and Israir.
In 2018, Ryanair flew 602,000 passengers to and from Israel. 517,000 passengers were flown to and from Ben Gurion airport, triple the number in 2017, and 85,000 passengers were flown to and from Ovda, double the number from 2017.
O'Leary said that he expects that Ryanair will overhaul both easyJet and Wizz Air within two years, the low-cost carriers that carry most passengers to and from Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 22, 2019
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