Airline silent on flight cancellation claims

By Jan Shure, February 19, 2009

Thomsonfly have refused to deny suggestions that they will be scrapping flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv.

Rival airline Jet2 last week announced they will be making weekly flights to Israel from May.

The no-frills airline, now flying to 40 destinations from six UK airports, launched its Tel Aviv route with the claim that it will be “the only airline to offer a direct route from the north of the UK, following the demise of other services”.

A spokesperson said: “We understand that Thomson is dropping its Tel Aviv service from Manchester, leaving as the sole operator on this route. They are not offering flights for sale after April 30.”

But Thomsonfly this week refused to comment on the future of the Manchester flights.

A statement said: “Thomson Airways launched two routes from Manchester and Luton to Tel Aviv in November 2007. Both routes continue to operate for the present winter 2008/2009 season, which runs until the end of April 2009.The final details of the summer 2009 departures are still being confirmed and customers should continue to check the website for the latest information.”

Rafi Shalev, director-general of the Israel Government Tourist Office in London, said he was “not in a position” to confirm whether Thomsonfly were continuing flights to Israel.

“I assume they will do what is best for them, commercially, in the long run. From our point of view, we are looking at alternatives should this cancellation] happen. We are doing the maximum we can to add flights from the UK, including from Manchester.”

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said they had “heard rumours” about Thomson’s flights to Tel Aviv, “but nothing has been confirmed by them”.

Currently, Thomson’s website shows flights to Tel Aviv from Manchester and Luton until April 30, but nothing beyond that date from either airport.

However, Simon Harley, airline development manager at Luton, said he would be “very surprised” if the airline did not continue to fly to Tel Aviv from there. He said: “We are still waiting to hear their schedule update for the summer but Tel Aviv has been a very successful route for them, particularly with passengers from North London, so I would be very surprised if they don’t continue.

“Time is pressing. We will be speaking to them to try to get the schedule bedded in for the summer. But as far as we know, it is business as usual.”

Uri Danor, El Al chief executive in northern Europe, welcomed the “launch of Jet2 flights and the confidence they have in the country. The more people we can get to visit Israel the better”.

El Al stopped direct flights from Manchester in June 2001, but, said Mr Danor: “ We have not ruled out a return some time in the future.”

The confusion over the future of the Manchester route comes as business airline bmi add an extra daily flight to Tel Aviv from Heathrow.

Last updated: 4:55pm, July 22 2009