It now seems that the security dispute between Israel and the Dubai aviation authorities has not been resolved, as previously reported. Consequently, Israeli airlines have been forced to cancel dozens of flights on the Tel Aviv - Dubai route, for which tickets have already been sold. The cancellations include flights during the Passover holiday, so that many passengers can expect to be informed that their vacation plans have been ruined. The fall in the supply of seats on planes to Dubai will undoubtedly push up fares on the flights that can go ahead.
Since the Abraham Accords were signed more than 18 months ago, security arrangements on flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai have not been agreed according to procedures acceptable to the Israel Security Services (Shin Bet). The crux of the dispute revolves around the demands of the Shin Bet, for example regarding the number of security officers stationed in Dubai and their access to the airport area. The Dubai authorities are reluctant to agree to this, which they see as excessive compared with other airlines.
After countless meetings with senior Shin Bet officers, the Shin Bet announced on March 4 that, "Understandings have been reached that will allow Israeli companies to return to fly to Dubai on a regular and ongoing basis." But it now appears that the understandings reached have not been fully implemented and the airlines have again been forced to cancel flights.
On peak days, El Al, Arkia and Israir each operate four flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai, while UAE carrier flyDubai operates four flights.
Previously the Israeli carriers were restricted to just one flight a day and Israel also restricted flyDubai to just one flight. The airlines are now being allowed more than one flight per day but cannot operate the full number of flights on their schedule.
El Al, which is responsible for the security of all three Israeli airlines said, "Handling of the security issue in Dubai is moving forward but is not yet fully ended. At this time, the quota of approved flights for Israeli irline companies has not returned to the usual quota before the crisis broke and does not provide a response for the scale of the demand.
"El Al is working with the authorities to progress with the security arrangements issue, in a way that will allow the Israeli airlines to operate a schedule to Dubai that meets the size of the demand. Meanwhile a situation has inevitably been created that forces the Israeli airlines to cancel flights that have been sold and approved. The emotional distress caused to customers is understandable. At the same time, the circumstances in which the flights are canceled are circumstances beyond the control of El Al."
The Shin Bet has yet to respond.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 16, 2022.
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