MOROCCO – Israir, an Israel based airline, has announced plans to begin flights between Israel and Morocco in July after normalizing their relations in 2020, opening the way for direct flights.
Israir says it will start flying regularly between Tel Aviv and Marrakesh from July 19. If the flights take off as planned, they will be the first scheduled services between the two countries.
Israir’s booking engine currently has flights available from the stated start date of July 19. The Times of Israel report has five services running a week. However, the Israir booking engine reveals just two return services a week from mid-July.
The flights are marked as charter flights rather than normal scheduled passenger flights. Israir also notes that while the flights have been approved by Israel’s Director of Civil Aviation, final ticketing approval is still pending.
Israir has a fleet of four Airbus A320-200 aircraft that will be deployed onto the 2,500-mile sector. Marrakesh will join a range of mostly seasonal destinations Israir’s Airbus jets fly to.
These Morocco flights will be Israir’s first flights to Africa, charter or scheduled. Despite being perched next door to the continent, Israir has always focused on Europe and the odd ill-fated foray across to North America.
Despite the two countries restoring ties in December, airlines have been slow to begin flights. This is largely due to border closures and travel restrictions.
Morocco’s government says it expects the direct flights to bring 200,000 Israeli’s annually to the country. Until now, around a quarter of that number have visited Morocco each year.
Meanwhile, Israel’s flag carrier, El Al, is also expected to begin flights to Morocco in July. In late December, El Al operated its first flight to Morocco amid much hoopla. However, it was another four months until El Al headed back to Morocco, scheduling another ad hoc service in April.
Around the same time, reports emerged that Moroccan flag carrier, Royal Air Maroc, was about to launch services to Tel Aviv. However, those reports proved premature. Morocco’s borders are closed to many countries. Royal Air Maroc is only operating a handful of international services and none to Israel.
While tourist authorities in both countries have their fingers crossed hoping for a mini tourism boom as a result of normalizing ties, the airlines in both countries have yet to get onboard.
Meanwhile, after temporarily shutting down last month and multiple airlines halting fights, Israel’s key airport, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International, is getting back to business. Most airlines have quietly restored flights after armed conflict in the area ceased.