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Israel's El Al starts flights to Morocco after improved diplomatic ties

Reuters/Jerusalem
Filed on July 25, 2021
An El Al plane.

(Reuters)

Israel and Morocco agreed last December to resume diplomatic ties and relaunch direct flights.


El Al Israel Airlines on Sunday launched non-stop flights to Marrakesh from Tel Aviv following a resumption of diplomatic ties last year between Morocco and Israel.

Flight 553 took off at 11.35am (0835 GMT) using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft for the six-hour journey.

Israel and Morocco agreed last December to resume diplomatic ties and relaunch direct flights -- part of a deal brokered by the US that also included Washington's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

"This route will help promote tourism, trade and economic cooperation between the two countries," said tourism minister Yoel Razvozov.

El Al, Israel's flag carrier which was hit hard last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, said it will operate up to five flights a week to Morocco, switching to smaller Boeing 737 planes.

In March, Moroccan tourism minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui said she expected 200,000 Israeli visitors in the first year following the resumption of direct flights. That compares with about 13 million yearly total foreign tourists before the pandemic.

Tourism revenue in Morocco fell by 53.8% to $3.8 billion in 2020.





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