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|Sam Orez||April 22nd 2016|
Some 100 world airlines operate regular flights to Israel, but the country's Ministry of Tourism wants more. It has launched an initiative to encourage direct flights from "new" gateways to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV). In recent years, dozens of airlines have inaugurated service to Israel, and while El Al, Israel's national carrier, remains the number one airline operating flights to and from Tel Aviv, EasyJet has become the airport's number two airline, with multiple daily flights from 10 major European gateways.
Within its scope of promoting tourism to Israel, the Ministry views tourism trade professionals as strategic partners and wants to participate in the marketing efforts of airlines that initiate flights from "new" gateways to Israel. For eligibility, flights must operate from November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017 and possess measurable potential to bring additional tourists to Israel. To be considered a "new" gateway, airports must be located more than 120 kilometers from an airport already servicing direct flights to Israel.
Four airlines currently operate as many as 10 daily flights from North America to Israel (Air Canada, Delta, El Al and United), with nonstop service from Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Newark and San Francisco. 2015 was the best year for North American tourism to Israel, and statistics for the first quarter of 2016 are showing a 9% increase over the record year. The Ministry of Tourism's will provide subsidies to airlines operating "new" gateway flights, and airlines and airports meeting these criteria are encouraged to submit applications to the Ministry's managing committee for review.