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Israeli airlines to launch direct flights to Goa, Kochi

TEL AVIV: Israel’s Arkia Airlines will introduce direct flights to two Indian cities — Goa and Kochi, considered “dream destinations” by many Jews in this country, tapping the huge tourism potential between India and Israel.

Arkia will operate the new flights from September 2019, company officials said.

“Arkia will operate the new flights from September 2019 onward using recently acquired Airbus 321neoLR. Flights will take about seven hours and will operate throughout the year, except during the monsoon season in India,” Orly Peleg-Mizrahi, spokesperson for the Israeli airline, told PTI.

The Israeli airlines’ decision came after India’s national-carrier Air India last year introduced direct flights between Delhi and Tel Aviv.

The launch was marked by significant increase in the number of people travelling between the two countries leading to rise in number of flights per week from three to five, which may even further go up given the enthusiastic response.

“The launch of direct flight from Delhi to Tel Aviv has been a massive success with an increase of almost 60 per cent in the number of tourists visiting Israel from India in the last two years. The direct flight using Saudi and Omanese airspace has cut short the flying time and also made travel cost-effective,” Lydia Weitzman, Foreign Press Adviser to the Ministry of Tourism, said.

Israeli national carrier El Al has been operating direct flights between Mumbai and Tel Aviv but takes a longer route as it cannot fly over the Gulf Countries’ airspace.

Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Oman but its “warming relations” with these countries have recently been widely publicised.

The flight to Goa will take off on Tuesdays, while there will be two weekly flights to Kochi taking off on Mondays and Fridays in September-October, and on Sundays and Thursdays starting on October 27.

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