Virgin Atlantic announces new service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to commence a new service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv, Israel with the first flight offered on September 25, 2019.

The airline will fly daily between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, and the five hour flight will operate on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Flights to Tel Aviv are on sale from February 25, 2019.

Offering over 180,000 seats each year, the new service will offer connections for customers connecting from Tel Aviv via London Heathrow to destinations throughout North America across both the Virgin Atlantic and Delta networks including New York, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, commented: ‘2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to achieve our ambition to become the most loved travel company. Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming and as one of the world’s leading tech hubs we’re anticipating many business travellers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK. We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US – Tel Aviv market, using the strength of our trans-Atlantic Joint Venture with Delta to offer customers from Tel Aviv a wide range of US destinations connecting through London Heathrow including New York and San Francisco.’

‘I’m also thrilled to introduce this new destination to our leisure customers and I know it’s somewhere they’ll love to visit. Renowned for its cultural sites and with UNESCO recognised architecture, Tel Aviv also boasts beautiful beaches, a buzzing artistic and nightlife scene, incredible food and is a great base to explore the tourist destinations of the region including the iconic historical city of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and the Dead Sea’.

Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director, IGTO for the UK and Ireland, added: ‘We’re thrilled with the launch of the new flights and Virgin Atlantic’s confidence in the Israeli product. The ‘Two Sunny Cities, One Break’ campaign has been very successful in showcasing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and we’re proud of our continued commitment to working with the travel trade industry. We are looking forward to working together with the Virgin Group in order to promote Israel as a leading tourist destination.’

Virgin Atlantic is set to become the founding member of a new, USD13 billion transatlantic joint venture with over 300 daily transatlantic flights and 96 non-stop destinations, alongside Delta, Air France and KLM as well as launching new services from London Heathrow to Las Vegas and Manchester to Los Angeles.

easyJet announces new route between London Gatwick and Tel Aviv

easyJet, a UK-based airline, has said that it plans a third route between the UK and Tel Aviv.

The airline, which already flies to the city from Manchester Airport and London Luton Airport, will start services from London Gatwick Airport from April 1, 2014. The three-times-weekly flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with fares starting from £90.49, and will be available from December 10.

Hugh Aitken, UK commercial manager for easyJet, said: ‘easyJet is delighted to be able to offer new services to Tel Aviv from a third airport in the UK. We expect to carry around 50,000 passengers each year on the new Gatwick service. Combined with our flights from London Luton and Manchester this means we will operate 16 weekly flights to Tel Aviv from the UK.

‘Our research, in conjunction with the Jewish News, has helped us better understand why passengers choose Tel Aviv and informed us about what they enjoyed about their trip. The most striking finding was the destination’s growing popularity with young travellers who viewed it as a relaxing, beach destination to visit.

‘One of the reasons for launching new flights from London Gatwick is because Tel Aviv’s appeal as a popular leisure destination has been growing. Almost 100,000 passengers travelled from both London Luton and Manchester with easyJet in the past year.’

easyJet undertook a survey of adult travellers to better understand visitors’ impressions of Israel. The survey found that a third, 33 percent, of people questioned were visiting Israel for the first time, with 41 percent of first time visitors aged 35 or under. Nearly 75 percent of visitors were travelling purely for leisure, while the rest were on business or a mixture of both.

78 percent of participants said that they would revisit Israel, while 40 percent said that they had already recommended visiting Israel to a friend, and a further 42 percent said that they would recommend Israel to a friend.

easyJet started flying to Tel Aviv in November 2009 from London Luton Airport. Across Europe the airline currently serves Tel Aviv from London Luton and Manchester, as well as Basel, Geneva and Rome.

The airline has recently announced a Berlin – Tel Aviv route, which is the first since the signing of the Open skies agreement between the EU and Israel. In the past twelve months, easyJet has flown more than 330,000 passengers into and out of Tel Aviv, 190,000 of those flew to and from the UK.

easyJet has also increased its flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv from two to three per week between February 17, 2014, and April 28, 2014.

IDF to lift travel restrictions

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has promised to ease travel restrictions for Palestinians in the Jordan Valley.

The nation’s defence forces have announced that they will ease restrictions that prevent free passage for Palestinians to and from the Jordan Valley. The defence body made the promise to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has campaigned since 2006 for freedom of movement for Palestinians to and from the Valley.

A spokesperson for the IDF said, ‘As part of our policy for improving the quality of life of the Palestinian population of Judea and Samaria, the IDF approved a few months ago free movement between Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, subject to a security check.’

Previously, free passage was allowed only through checkpoints to vehicles whose owners were registered as residents of a Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley. It was also required that the driver had to be the vehicle’s owner. Since 2001, Palestinians whose ID card does not list an address in the Jordan Valley, or who do not hold an entry permit, were not allowed into Jordan.

The travel restrictions prevent residents of the northern Jordan Valley, who live in small agricultural communities and depend on services such as education, health and employment from Nablus, Jenin and towns overlooking the valley, from travelling freely. This had increased the cost of amenities, goods and services and had also prevented the free movement of people across the border. With the lifting of restrictions, it is expected that more travel will be made possible for those concerned.


Israel becoming wine destination

Israel is becoming a popular destination for its rich wine-making tradition.

The nation has a thriving wine industry and tour operators are now promoting conducted tours that seek to link the culture, history and politics of the nation with the equally important wine industry.

Wine tourism is important to Israel’s wine industry to increase consumption and to encourage more people to enjoy its wines, and wine tourism from overseas clients is particularly valued.

For the tourist, Israel offers 5,000 years of winemaking history, and those trying to get a grasp of the industry will also interact with the nation’s agriculture, archaeology, gastronomy, history, religion and politics.

Wine tourism in the nation is being promoted as two models: the Italian model, known as agritourism and the Californian Napa Valley style. In the first, winemaking is introduced as a way of life and tourists enjoy all aspects of wine making as they visit different places. In the second model, the winemaking is restricted to specific areas that specifically attract tourists.

There are three main wine routes in Israel, the North, comprising Galilee and the Golan, the Mount Carmel area on the coast and the Shfela (Judean foothills) lying west of Jerusalem. Each area has diverse sights and tastes to offer the discerning tourist. The North has some of the fastest growing vineyards, and activities are more intense here. The Mount Carmel region, overlooking the Mediterranean, is the most traditional wine region and it is here that Israeli wine was fermented 2,000 years ago.

The Judean foothills are home to some of the finest wineries.

In the Negev area, there are farms to visit, resplendent in the near-desert landscape.