Aust & Israel sign air services deal

The recent state visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paved way for the first treaty-level air services framework between the two countries in a move that is expected to increase travel demand.

The agreement signed between Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Ambassador of Israel to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel allowed flag carriers Qantas and El Al to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a new codeshare agreement.

Customers of both airlines will be able to book on select flights, plus earn and redeem frequent flyer points. The codeshare partnership primarily focuses on linking Qantas flights from Australia to Asia with El Al’s flights between Asia and Israel’s financial centre and technology hub, Tel Aviv. On top of this, Qantas and El Al will codeshare on their respective Johannesburg flights between Sydney and Tel Aviv.

Minister Chester said for the first-time Israeli and Australian airlines could operate flights between the countries with their own aircraft or via code share arrangements.

“During 2016, 12,600 Israeli residents visited Australia, while 22,000 Australians visited Israel. We expect these numbers to grow as the new arrangements are put in place,” he noted.

Qantas International chief executive officer Gareth Evans said Israel was a popular destination for the many Australians with family and friends in the country, as well as strengthening opportunities for other industries. “The timing’s especially good when you think about the growing number of Australian companies doing business with Israel’s world-class technology and start-up sectors,” he said.

It is planned that the codeshare flights will go on sale during the second half of the calendar year.