Israeli airline to launch direct flights to Marrakesh in July

“We believe that demand will be high and that hundreds of thousands of Israelis will want to take advantage of these direct flights to Morocco,” said an Israir statement.
Wednesday 02/06/2021
A file picture shows Israir company plane preparing to land at Eilat’s airport in the centre of the Israeli Red Sea resort.
A file picture shows Israir company plane preparing to land at Eilat’s airport in the centre of the Israeli Red Sea resort. (AP)

JERUSALEM--Israir will launch direct flights between Israel and Morocco’s Marrakesh in July, the Israeli carrier said on Tuesday, six months after the two countries reached a US-backed normalisation deal.

“The first flight will take place on July 19 from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh,” said a spokeswoman for Israel’s second biggest airline, adding there would be five services a week.

“We believe that demand will be high and that hundreds of thousands of Israelis will want to take advantage of these direct flights to Morocco,” Gil Stav, Israir’s deputy sales director, said in a statement.

Morocco was one of four regional states to normalise ties with Israel in 2020, along with Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

The move came as the administration of former US president Donald Trump recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Israel’s top airline El Al operated a first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Rabat in December 2020.

Israir said the price of a return ticket to Marrakesh would cost $580  (about €473).

Morocco is home to North Africa’s largest Jewish community, which numbers around 3,000. Some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin live in Israel.

The Kingdom hopes its improved ties with Israel and centuries-old Jewish history will help it offset some of the tourist trade it has lost to the global pandemic by bringing a surge of Israeli visitors.

More than other countries in the region where the issue is often taboo, Morocco has sought in recent years to recognise the Jewish role in its history. In 2010, it launched a programme to restore synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and heritage sites, and reinstated the original names of some Jewish neighbourhoods.

Though the numbers of Israeli visitors are likely to be small compared to the total pre-COVID-19 tourist flow to Morocco, it could help a sector battered by the pandemic.