Philippine Airlines (PAL) plans to mount nonstop flights from Manila to and from Tel Aviv, the gateway to Jerusalem and Israel, by October 2021.
The flag carrier targets to serve growing demand for air linkages between the Philippines and the Holy Land to serve tourists and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
PAL is eyeing twice weekly nonstop flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, using its Airbus A350 aircraft.
Philippine passport holders are entitled to a 90-day visa-free access to Israel.
Around 28,000 Filipinos currently work in Israel, most of whom are based in the neighboring areas of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa.
Already, PAL President and COO Gilbert Santa Maria and Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi have carried out exploratory talks on possible Manila-Tel Aviv-Manila flights.
Israel is gradually reopening its borders to international tourism, starting with vaccinated tour groups from May 23, and ultimately to individual tourist travelers by July 2021, after the country successfully controlled the pandemic.
“The Philippines is a strong source of potential travelers to Israel, which welcomes Filipinos without requiring a visa,” explained PAL Chief Strategy and Planning Officer Dexter Lee.
“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,” he added.
“We also look forward to inviting Israelis to visit the Philippines, so our direct flights will help us restart tourism here in our country.”
“I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines,” according to Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Halevi.
“Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity,” he went on. “This time, Israel has unique advantage as a safe and healthy country. We hope to welcome you soon in Israel.”
Sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, Israel is a fusion of historic and natural attractions.
From the ancient city of Jerusalem to the resorts of the Red Sea, it has attracted tourists and pilgrims for thousands of years.
Tel Aviv is also a modern city known for its beaches, cafe culture, lively nightlife and its UNESCO World Heritage collection of Bauhaus modernist buildings.
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.
This will be a comeback for PAL, which operated regularly to Tel Aviv from the 1940s to the 1950s.