Australia and Israel have announced plans to establish an air services agreement to facilitate more travel and trade between the two countries.
Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu have signed a memorandum of understanding to “establish the first treaty-level air services framework” between Australia and Israel.
“For the first time, airlines of Israel and Australia can begin services between countries either using their own aircraft or via code share arrangements with other airlines,” Chester said in a statement on February 23.
“During 2016, 12,600 Israeli residents visited Australia, while 22,000 Australians visited Israel. We expect these numbers to grow as the new arrangements are put in place.”
The MoU signing was quickly followed with the announcement Qantas and El Al planned to establish a codeshare agreement for flights between Australia and Israel, via Asia or Africa.
Under the codeshare, Qantas said it would place its QF airline code on El Al-operated flights from Hong Kong, Bangkok and Johannesburg to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, El Al planned to add its LY airline code on Qantas services from Hong Kong to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and from Sydney to Bangkok and Johannesburg.
Eligible frequent flyers of both carriers would also receive reciprocal lounge access at Tel Aviv, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hong Kong, Qantas said in a statement.
The proposed codeshare, which was expected to start during the second half of calendar 2017, comes on top of an existing interline agreement between Qantas and El Al.
“It’s a popular destination for the many Australians with family and friends in Israel, including a lot of Qantas frequent flyers who we know will welcome the option to book with us,” Qantas international chief executive Gareth Evans said in a statement.
“The timing’s especially good when you think about the growing number of Australian companies doing business with Israel’s world-class technology and start-up sectors.”
El Al chief executive David Maimon said: “Australia is a growing destination for Israelis, especially from the business and tourism segments and we are here to answer their needs.”
Currently, Korean Air offers a one-stop single-carrier option for Australians heading to Tel Aviv from Brisbane or Sydney via Seoul Incheon.
However, Cathay Pacific, which serves Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from its Hong Kong hub, was scheduled to begin nonstop between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv on March 26 2017.