PAL plans to return Manila-Tel Aviv flights by October
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines (PAL) is looking to launch non-stop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv by October 2021, betting on a relaxation of travel restrictions as COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines ramps up.
PAL is seeking to revive the route, which it operated until the 1950s, for tourism purposes and to serve the estimated 28,000 Filipinos based in Israel.
“The Philippine airline hopes to meet the growing demand for air links between the Philippines and the Holy Land to serve tourists and OFWs. [overseas Filipino workers] the same, ”PAL said in a statement Friday, April 30.
“Our compatriots yearn for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate permits,” the statement said, quoting Dexter Lee, PAL chief strategist and planning officer.
Recent “exploratory” discussions were led by PAL chairman Gilbert Santa Maria and director general of Israel’s tourism ministry Amir Halevi, the statement said.
Among the countries that have succeeded in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread vaccination, Isreal is gradually reopening its doors to international visitors.
PAL said Israel could start accepting individual tourists by July 2021.
“I am happy to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines,” Halevi said in the same statement.
“Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity. This time Israel has a unique advantage as a safe and healthy country, ”he said.
PAL said planned Manila-Tel Aviv flights would operate twice a week using its Airbus A350. Filipino passport holders will be entitled to a 90-day visa-free stay in Israel.
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