PAL eyes return of Manila-Tel Aviv flights by October
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Airlines (PAL) seeks to launch nonstop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv by October 2021, betting on eased travel restrictions as COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines ramps up.
PAL is seeking the revival of the route, which it operated until the 1950s, for tourism purposes and to serve the roughly 28,000 Filipinos based in Israel.
“The Philippine flag carrier hopes to serve growing demand for air linkages between the Philippines and the Holy Land to serve tourists and OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] alike,” PAL said in a statement on Friday (April 30).
“Our countrymen have been longing for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate allows,” said the statement quoting Dexter Lee, PAL chief strategist and planning officer.
Recent “exploratory” discussions were led by PAL president Gilbert Santa Maria and Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi, according to the statement.
Among the countries that have successfully controlled the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread vaccination, Isreal is now gradually reopening to international visitors.
PAL said Israel may begin accepting individual tourist travelers by July 2021.
“I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines,” Halevi was quoted as saying in the same statement.
“Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity. This time Israel has unique advantage as a safe and healthy country,” he said.
PAL said the planned Manila-Tel Aviv flights would operate twice per week using its Airbus A350. Philippine passport holders will be entitled to a 90-day visa-free stay in Israel.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.