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El Al to boost NY flights after Israel joins US visa waiver programme

El Al to boost NY flights after Israel joins US visa waiver programme

El Al Israel Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel March 10, 2020. — Reuters pic

JERUSALEM, Sept 28 — El Al Israel Airlines ELAL.TA said on Thursday it would add flights to New York in 2024 after the United States agreed to admit Israel into a programme that will allow visa-free entry by Israeli citizens.

Starting next June, Israel's flag carrier will add a daily flight to New York's JFK Airport that will bring daily flights to JFK and Newark airports to as many as six per day and 33 per week.

On Wednesday, the US government said Israel would be admitted to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as of Nov. 30.

"This is a breakthrough, and we are preparing to expand the flight frequencies based on the expected increase in demand," CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia said, adding that New York had long been the top destination for Israelis.

El Al said a survey it commissioned of Israeli adults who plan to travel abroad found that just 30 per cent of them hold visas to enter the United States, while 40 per cent of those considering flying to the US said the need for a visa was one of the main barriers to flying there.

If Israelis may enter without a visa, the willingness to fly to the US would rise by 20 per cent, according to the poll. It also showed that 65 per cent of respondents said New York was the most sought-after US destination, followed by Los Angeles at 13 per cent.

In all, El Al as of next June will operate 49 weekly flights to the United States including non-stops from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, Miami and Boston. It will also add a route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in April.

El Al also recently forged a strategic cooperation with Delta DAL.N to broaden connection options in the US It said that the collaboration would allow El Al to increase the supply of seats to US destinations while expanding its route network. — Reuters