Two US airlines resume Israel flights

Delta Air Lines credit: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz
Delta Air Lines credit: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz

From the weekend Delta and United will resume daily Tel Aviv – New York flights, weakening El Al's monopoly on the route.

On Friday US carrier Delta Air Lines will resume flights to and from Israel for the first time since the outbreak of the war last October. The airline will operate a daily flight directly from JFK Airport in New York to Tel Aviv. Two days later, United Airlines will recommence operating daily flights between Newark, New Jersey and Tel Aviv.

United Airlines did resume Tel Aviv flights in March but in mid-April joined UK low cost carrier easyJet, Air Canada and Air India, in suspending Israel flights after the attack on Israel by Iran. At first United said it would resume flights on May 1 but then the resumption was put back until June 9.

In contrast, American Airlines, which had initially planned to resume Israel flights in May, announced in February that flights to Israel would only restart at the end of October 2024.

US has become more accessible

The US is considered a safe destination for Israelis and together with the newly introduced visa waiver program it has become more accessible. In April, 97,552 Israelis travelled to the US from Ben Gurion airport - the second most popular destination after Greece.

Despite the visa waiver program, there has been a significant decline in the number of Israelis flying to the US with 178,000 Israeli traveling there in April 2023, although the 8% proportion of overall Israeli trips abroad remained unchanged.

With the cancellation of flights and suspension of activities by US airlines, Israeli airline El Al has expanded US operations. El Al has diverted planes from other routes where popularity has decreased since the war (such as Dublin and Johannesburg), to increase the frequency of flights to the US and respond to the high demand by Israelis.

El Al currently operates more than 50 direct weekly flights to various US destinations. At the beginning of June, in preparation for the summer season, the company even increased the frequency of flights on the Tel Aviv-Boston route to four weekly flights, and on the Los Angeles-Tel Aviv route to eight weekly flights. The airline also operates flights to New York, and Miami and Orlando in Florida. But it now looks like El Al's monopoly on Israel-US flights is weakening although the Israeli carrier still controls the market.

The resumption of flights to Israel by foreign airlines involves operations on a smaller scale than before the war, and is therefore still far from bringing about a drastic reduction in fares. At the same time, tourists are in no rush to visit Israel, which limits the market to the Israeli travelers only.

An examination by "Globes" check found that fares on flights from Tel Aviv to New York in the first week when the three airlines will be operating in Israel at the same time remains extremely high. Fares on El Al from Tel Aviv to New York start at $1,128 and can reach more than $4,300. On United fares begin at $1,081 dollars and rise $1,335 dollars at most. Delta Air Lines maintains a stable fare of $1,650 throughout the week.

Fares in mid-September, a period known to be cheaper than the summer peak, are not much lower. In a random week in September, a flight ticket from Tel Aviv (one way) to New York on El Al will cost around $867, on United the same ticket will cost around $1,084, and on Delta around $1,625.

ISSTA Sport CEO Ido Veg said, "Tel Aviv-New York is the most in-demand and major route from Israel. It is to be hoped that the return of some of the US airlines to Israel will be a positive sign for other foreign companies, which despite the complex situation, will return to operating flights from Tel Aviv.

"El Al, which enjoys commercial dominance at the current point in time, will now be challenged by the return of Delta and will have to adjust its prices to the competition. In June-August, an average flight to New York will indeed cost El Al over $1,500, but the return of Delta (in the hope it continue to fly continuously over a long period) in my estimation, will lower fares on the route by 20%, and even more in the following months."

Veg recalls, "Before the war, a direct flight to New York in economy class was almost a 'commodity product', and the price was about $1,000. The hope is that we can return to similar fares in the not too distant future, thanks to the competition that will be created on the route."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on June 5, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Delta Air Lines credit: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz
Delta Air Lines credit: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz
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