TEL AVIV (Reuters) – El Al Airlines will on Monday fly Israel’s first flight to the United Arab Emirates by a commercial carrier, a timetable on the Israel Airports Authority’s website showed, as the countries forge ahead with a deal to normalize ties.
The direct flight between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and the UAE’s political capital of Abu Dhabi is expected to carry an Israeli delegation and accompanying officials from the United States, which brokered the Aug. 13 accord.
El Al and smaller Israeli rival Israir had submitted bids for the flight, an aviation source said. An El Al spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A return flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, the online timetable showed.
The flight number for the outbound leg is listed as “LY 971” and the return leg as “LY 972”, a nod to the UAE and Israel’s country codes, respectively.
There are no official air links between Israel and the UAE, and it was unclear whether an Israeli airliner would be able to fly over Saudi Arabia, which has no official ties with Israel, to cut down on flight time.
A U.S. government official confirmed that officials including Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, would be on the El Al flight departing from Tel Aviv on Aug. 31 at 10 am. (0700 GMT).
The exact flight route and landing time were still being worked on, the US official said.
In May, an Etihad Airways plane flew from the UAE to Tel Aviv to deliver coronavirus supplies to the Palestinians, marking the first known flight by a UAE carrier to Israel.
The Israel-UAE deal awaits negotiations on details such as opening embassies, trade and travel links before it is officially signed.
Additional reporting by Steven Scheer and Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mark Potter
Image: FILE PHOTO: El Al Israel Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo