El Al is to add six additional flights each week from London to Tel Aviv, starting in May.
The airline announced yesterday that it is to operate a third daily flight from the UK. The additional flights, from Sunday to Friday, will be from Luton. Low-cost airline Thomson, which has been flying to Tel Aviv from Luton since November 2007, is to discontinue flights after Passover.
Uri Danor, El Al’s UK vice-president said he was “excited” about the new venture. “We have had good co-operation from Luton to enable us bring this service to the market,” he said.
Flights will leave Luton at 12.15pm, arriving at Ben Gurion at 7.05pm, with a return flight from Tel Aviv at 7.30am and earlier departures on Fridays.
Mr Danor said he believed the timings would suit passengers well, as departures and arrivals would be “at times when the airport is probably at its quietest enabling swift boarding and disembarkation”.
The airline, which will no longer operate flights from Stansted, will fly B767 aircraft from Luton. The development follows the start next week by UK business airline bmi of a second daily flight from Heathrow to Tel Aviv, a route which it launched in April 2008.
Simon Harley, airline development manager at Luton, said they were delighted to welcome El Al to the airport which is 20 miles north of London.
“We are confident the service will be a fantastic success serving the needs of our catchment area.
“Overall, it is a very positive message. We have had a very successful Tel Aviv programme with Thomson. We see El Al taking this forward and increasing the market. This can only be positive for the consumer.”
El Al has also confirmed it has no plans to resume flights from Manchester to Tel Aviv in the near future.
Manchester’s local Jewish paper claimed last week that the airline was set to resume operations from Manchester “as early as June”. The claim followed a visit to Manchester Airport last week by Mr Danor and El Al staff.
But a spokesman for the airline said the situation remained as it was since El Al discontinued direct flights in 2001. He said the recent visit to Manchester Airport was “part of an ongoing review of El Al’s UK operations”.
Fresh interest in the route was sparked by the decision of Thomsonfly to discontinue flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv after Passover.
However, Jet2.com, the regional, low-cost airline, is to begin flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv from May.
“It is true we would like to return to flying to Tel Aviv from Manchester, but we have to be sure that it is viable to do so in the long term,” Mr Danor said this week.