El Al announces new direct flight from Manchester to Ben Gurion

'Manchester has a large Jewish community and is a centre of business and tourism,' airline says as it announces service that begins in May


El Al has announced a new direct flight route from Manchester to Ben Gurion airport, starting from May 26, 2019.

The flights will operate three times per week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, said Michael Strassburger, El Al Israel Airlines Vice President Commercial and Industry Affairs at the World Travel Market trade show in London.

Prices will start with a promotional rate for bookings before November 26, from £289 return on selected dates, hand luggage only, and operate on Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

“Manchester has a large Jewish community and is a centre of business and tourism,” said Mr Strassburger. “We anticipate carrying thousands of tourists to Israel on this route.”

Israel has had another record year for tourism too, said Amir Halevi, Director General of Israel Ministry of Tourism. At this point in 2017, numbers had reached three million tourists, but have risen to over 3.5 million so far this year.

“Every direct flight is the most important marketing tool that we have,” he added. “If we have the flights and the capacity, we will fill them.

“The British market is very important but still we feel there’s huge potential, potential to double the numbers.”

And despite delays, the new Jerusalem to Tel Aviv high-speed rail link and Ramon airport in Eilat are set to make a big difference, he said.

“Every huge project like that, you have delays, also in western Europe there is delays of years and even more,” he said. “Here it’s a couple of months and [the train is] working. The airport is ready, it will take a couple of months and it will run. A beautiful opportunity to develop Eilat and the desert.”

The Six Senses hotel brand is opening its new property in the area, Six Senses Shaharut, near the Negev, but the ministry is also receiving tenders for more properties in Mitzpe Ramon and the Dead Sea.

“In a couple of years, we will have thousands of rooms more,” said Mr Halevi. “In the desert, there is huge potential. In Eilat itself we have about 10,000 rooms in hotels, another thousand in AirBNB. In a couple of years we will have thousands more in new hostels.”

Israel is also hosting an investors’ conference this month to capitalise on its record visitor numbers as well, he added. “We need more investors, more hotels, more chains. Israel is not only the start-up nation, it’s the tourist nation.”

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