PAL eyes non-stop flights to Israel

A girl wears an Israeli flag at a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel April 15, 2021. — REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is planning to mount non-stop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv, Israel by October.

The company is eyeing twice weekly nonstop flights to Tel Aviv’s Gurion international Airport using its Airbus A350 aircraft.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert F. Santa Maria has been in talks with Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi on the possible Manila-Tel Aviv-Mania flights, the company said in a statement on Friday. Philippine passport holders can travel to Israel visa-free for up to 90-day visits.

“The Philippines is a strong source of potential travelers to Israel, which welcomes Filipinos without requiring a visa. Our countrymen have been longing for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate allows,” PAL Chief Strategy and Planning Officer Dexter Lee said.

“We also look forward to inviting Israelis to visit the Philippines, so our direct flights will help us restart tourism here in our country.”

The Philippines on May 1 will lift its travel ban on foreign nationals, except for those travelling from India, where coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases have surged. Metro Manila and nearby regions are still under a strict lockdown where tourism attractions are not allowed to open.

Israel, which has fully vaccinated more than half its population, is slowly opening up its borders to international tourists, starting with vaccinated tour groups next month.

“‘Once the global travel climate improves and restrictions are eased, the planned PAL service will enable Israeli tourists to fly nonstop to Manila and connect to the flag carrier’s domestic route network,” PAL said.

The company last week announced that it would test run an international travel pass mobile application that allows passengers to manage travel documents and share COVID-19 test results and vaccination status. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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