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The New Arab Staff

First UAE passenger flight lands in Israel as authorities agree to 28 weekly flights

The Etihad Airways operated Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed in Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2020

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The UAE's Etihad Airways flew its first passenger plane to Israel and back, carrying an Israeli tourism delegation to Abu Dhabi.

The UAE's first passenger flight on Monday landed at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport, a day after the two countries signed an aviation deal to enable direct flights following normalisation.

Etihad Airways' Flight EY9607 landed in Tel Aviv at around 7am with only cabin crew on board, Israeli media reports said.

Photos posted by Etihad showed crew members waving Israeli and Emirati flags after making a touchdown.

"
Shalom Tel Aviv! Thank you for the very warm welcome to #Israel," the airline said in a tweet.

The flight picked up an Israeli travel and tourism delegation before departing for Abu Dhabi for a two-day visit. 

While Emirati cargo planes carrying humanitarian aid have previously landed in Israel, the EY9607 is the first passenger flight to land in Ben Gurion. 

The flight came after the UAE and Israel signed an aviation agreement on Sunday, laying the groundwork to operate 28 direct flights between the countries weekly.

Last week, Etihad launched a Hebrew-language website greeting visitors with the message "Welcome from Abu Dhabi". But tickets between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have not yet been made available to the general public, according to The Times of Israel.

"Today, we make history. Etihad has become the first Gulf airline to operate a passenger flight to Israel. And this is only the beginning.. Salam and Shalom!" the airline said on Twitter.

Read also: Palestinians refuse airborne virus aid from UAE

The UAE and Israel signed a US-brokered normalisation agreement last week, angering Palestinians who view the move as a "betrayal" to their cause.

The recent announcement by the airline was celebrated by Israelis who posed questions about ticket prices. The statements also drew criticisms on social media, which prompted the airline to hide some responses to its original posts.

"Shame on you UAE and shame on you Etihad Airways," one person replied. 
 
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