El Al to fly first cargo flight to Dubai by an Israeli carrier

Reuters , Thursday 3 Sep 2020

United Arab Emirates
an official stands at the door of an Israeli El Al airliner after it landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Saudi Press Agency announced Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. AP

El Al Israel Airlines said on Thursday it would operate the first cargo flight to Dubai by an Israeli carrier on Sept. 16.

The first flight, using a Boeing 747 jet, will travel to Belgium and from there to Dubai, carrying agricultural and high tech products.

It will later become a weekly flight, leaving Israel every Wednesday and returning to Israel on Fridays.

El Al, Israel's flag carrier, said the new route will be an "import and export" link to Dubai and further east.

An Israeli delegation visited Abu Dhabi on a historic trip earlier this week to finalise a pact to open up relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

El Al flew the delegation and received permission from Saudi Arabia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, to cross over its territory en route to the UAE's capital of Abu Dhabi.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli airliners will be allowed to fly directly to the UAE, shortly after Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to all flights to and from the UAE.

Israeli officials have played up the economic benefits of the accord, which once formalised would include agreements on tourism, technology, energy, healthcare and security, among other areas.

El Al has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak and is in advanced negotiations for a government bailout to avoid bankruptcy.

It has reported losses for two years running and racked up debt to renew its fleet, suspended flights when Israel closed its borders and furloughed most of its employees.

Israeli-Russian businessman David Sapir this week offered to buy joint control of El Al, one of three offers currently on the table, while the airline is in talks with the government on a bailout package. 

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