The decision will be valid for a period of six months from the start of the service by El Al. At the end of this period, the effect of El Al's flights on the route will be reviewed
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. received final approval last week for regular scheduled flights from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Eilat for the first time, in competition with Arkia and Israir. The decision is based on recommendations by the Israel CivilAviation Authority.
The decision will be valid for a period of six months from the start of the service by El Al. At the end of this period, the effect of El Al's flights on the route will be reviewed, and it will be decided whether to institute changes,if necessary. El Al said it is planning to start flights in the spring.
Katz's decision allows El Al to make three daily round-trip flights five days a week between Ben Gurion Airport and Eilat. Each flight must offer a minimum of 100 seats, but no more than 430 passengers in each direction per day.
Katz's decision allows Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. to set its own schedules to Eilat from Ben-Gurion International Airport and from Sde Dov airport instead of the previous ministry-dictated ones.
Currently, 20 daily flights are made between Ben Gurion Airport and Eilat, carrying one million passengers per year. Katz said his decision could lower air fares to Eilat and meet the potential demand on the route. Katz added that allowing another airline to operate on the route might increase Eilat and Israel's exposure as a tourist destination.
El Al is not permitted to begin the Eilat flights immediately, because the High Court of Justice ruled last year, in a petition by Arkia Airlines Ltd. and Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd., that the two airlines have 30 days from the date the minister of transport decides to allow El Al to fly the route, to appeal to the court.