by: Janet Aslin
Tuesday, 27 July 2021 | Sunday marked the beginning of a new era as two Israeli airlines introduced direct commercial flights to the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. Israir, the country’s third largest airline, launched its new service with a flight that took off at 8:15 a.m. followed several hours later by a flight operated by the nation’s flagship carrier, El Al.
This was all made possible when, in December 2020, Morocco became the fourth Arab country to resume diplomatic relations with Israel as a result of the US-brokered Abraham Accords. Regular flights between the two nations were part of that agreement.
Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov addressed those present at a ceremony held shortly before the El Al flight departed, saying that the new route “will help promote tourism, trade and fruitful economic and political cooperation between the two countries.” Morocco’s ambassador to Israel also participated in the ceremony.
Both airlines will operate regular weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Marrakesh, a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular tourist destination. El Al has indicated that it will also fly to the Moroccan port city of Casablanca on a regularly scheduled basis. Israel’s second largest airline, Arkia, and Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc plan to begin flights between the two countries in August.
Israelis are well-known global travelers. However, in the case of Morocco, Israelis are looking forward to more than just the opportunity to visit a new place. When Israel was reestablished as a modern state in 1948, there were approximately a quarter of a million Jews living in Morocco. Today there is a sizeable chunk of the Israeli population with Moroccan roots as well as a small number of Jews who remained in Morocco.
Although tourism to Israel has been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Razvozov is looking to the future and promises that the Tourism Ministry will “continue to build infrastructure and create tourism anchors that will promote tourism to Israel when we defeat the coronavirus.” He concluded by saying that “the Israel–Morocco route is an important and significant line.”
May these flights bring many opportunities for renewed ties between the two countries and a friendlier Middle East!
Posted on July 27, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 27, 2021)
Photo Credit: Magic Aviation/commons.wikimedia.org
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