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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Israel officially launches direct flights to Morocco

Direct flights between Israel and Morocco began Sunday, seven months after the two countries officially signed an agreement to normalize relations.

El Al and Israir both launched their first flights to Marrakesh Sunday with a ceremony marking the historic flights.

Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize relations last December in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords. The agreement followed similar agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

On December 22, the first-ever flight between the two countries carried an American and Israeli delegation led by then-White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Sunday’s flights marked the beginning of normal air travel for commercial passengers.

Israir’s flight left Israel at 8:15 Sunday morning, with stewardesses dressed in traditional Moroccan garb, with Moroccan foods served on board. Supermarket magnate Rami Levy was among the passengers. 

The El Al flight that took off at 11:20 was decorated with Moroccan flags and carpets.

“We continue to build infrastructure and create tourism anchors that will promote tourism to Israel when we defeat the coronavirus,” said Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov. “The Israel – Morocco airline is an important and significant line that will help promote tourism, trade and economic and political cooperation agreements between the two countries. All of these will enrich the state coffers and help our war on the cost of living.”

Flights to Marrakesh’s Menara Airport take about five and a half hours, and start at $500 per ticket. El Al and Israir will each offer three flights per week.

Arkia is scheduled to launch flights between Tel Aviv and Marrakesh on August 3, and Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s official carrier, will also begin flights in the coming month.

El Al and Israir are also expected to begin two flights a week to Casablanca starting August 10, for a total of five weekly round-trip flights to the country for each company.

Many Israelis are looking forward to visiting what was once an important Jewish center. More than 300,000 Jews immigrated from Morocco to Israel between 1948 and 1964 and there are now some 1 million Israelis of Moroccan heritage. An estimated 3,000 Jews live in Morocco today. 

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