Tel Aviv – Dubai coming? Israel – UAE reach peace agreement; we explore opportunities
Israel – UAE have announced an historic peace agreement, with a formal diplomatic relationship between the pair and multiple bilateral agreements coming.
This is the third Israel – Arab peace deal after Egypt and Jordan.
This raises the question: will there now be non-stop services from Tel Aviv to the UAE? And the inevitable follow-up: will Saudi Arabia give overflight rights, as it did for Air India to Tel Aviv?
Tel Aviv to the Middle East
Just under 70,000 flew between Tel Aviv and the wider Middle East last year, OAG Traffic Analyser – using MIDT booking data – shows.
This includes an estimated 39,000 point-to-point passengers to/from Amman, a 109-kilometre service and the only international route from Tel Aviv within the Middle East.
In normal times, Tel Aviv – Amman is served 18-weekly by Royal Jordanian, with an estimated 81% of its Tel Aviv passengers connecting onward over the Jordanian capital.
The remainder of the almost 70,000 Middle East traffic was led by Dubai (13,181), Doha (2,610), Jeddah (2,524), Abu Dhabi (2,087), and Beirut (1,438). They were primarily served by Royal Jordanian, with Turkish Airlines second-placed.
The UAE is by far the number-one country from Israel after Jordan. Not surprisingly, a non-stop link – especially to Dubai – would be crucial for significant point-to-point traffic stimulation as well as for freight.
And it would also provide more choice and often shorter routings for Tel Aviv to/from the As: Africa (East and Southern), Asia, and Australasia.
Tel Aviv to the As: Africa, Asia, and Australasia
Over 1.9 million were carried between Tel Aviv and East and Southern Africa, Asia, and Australasia last year, core sixth freedom markets that Emirates could serve (or be fed by flydubai to/from Tel Aviv).
An estimated 39% of this ~1.9 million was non-stop, with the top-five carriers by passengers being El Al, Hainan (Beijing and Shenzhen), Air India (Delhi), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa), and Korean Air (Seoul).
Over 1.1 million passengers – more than six in ten – flew indirectly, OAG’s passenger data suggests, with Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Ethiopian Airlines, and Royal Jordanian core in that order.
China was by far the top country market by total passengers, followed very closely by Thailand. Not surprisingly, Bangkok and Beijing were the top O&Ds.
Of unserved markets, Manila, Tokyo Narita, Singapore, Colombo, Hanoi, and Melbourne were all standouts, with Manila and Narita each having over 64,000 passengers before stimulation. In addition, multiple others had over 20,000 annual passengers.
El Al to Africa and Asia; steady growth, to be boosted by Tokyo
El Al had a record year in 2019, with 614,000 two-way seats to East and Southern Africa and Asia.
With a CAGR of 2.1%, its development to these areas has been mediocre since 2010 – and below its system-wide CAGR of 3.5%. As such, El Al’s East and Southern Africa and Asia capacity fell to just 9% of its total, its lowest for years.
At the same time, multiple new long-haul entrants have begun Tel Aviv in recent years, including Air India (2018), Air Seychelles (2019), Cathay Pacific (2017), Hainan (2016), RwandAir (2019), and Sichuan Airlines (2018).
Last year, El Al’s network comprised just five routes: Bangkok; Beijing; Hong Kong; Johannesburg; and Mumbai. With almost 118,000 seats, Bangkok was by far the airline’s top destination with a six-weekly operation.
These five routes will be joined next March by Tokyo Narita – a top unserved market from Tel Aviv. It’ll be operated three-weekly by the carrier’s 282-seat B787-9s.