An El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 737-900ER airplane takes off from the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport as seen from Paracuellos del Jarama, outside Madrid, Spain, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna/Files
JERUSALEM, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines said on Thursday it would not be able to maintain a full flight schedule to Dubai from Sunday due to disagreements over security arrangements in Dubai.
Tens of thousands of Israelis who had already purchased tickets will not be able to fly, it said.
El Al and two local rivals called on the Israeli government to intervene.
One option, they said in a letter made public, was to secure from Dubai authorities “an additional allocation of security tags, to an extent that will allow the Israeli companies to handle the entire planned flight schedule.”
The other was to reroute flights operated by airlines in both countries away from Dubai to nearby Abu Dhabi or other airports to ensure fair competition.
Nonstop flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai on El Al and smaller rivals Israir and Arkia were among the fruits of a landmark 2020 deal establishing ties between Israel and the UAE. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have visited the UAE commercial hub since.
Israeli and Emirati government officials had no immediate comment.
The three carriers often offer about 10 flights a day to Dubai. Now they said only three Israeli flights total will be permitted daily, and that Israeli security services told them those will have to stop completely by March 8.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service has voiced concerns – which it did not publicly detail – about arrangements at Dubai International Airport.
It has suggested that UAE capital Abu Dhabi could serve as an alternative for the Israeli carriers, but industry officials said that was not commercially viable as long as competitors still use Dubai.
Emirati state carrier flydubai operates direct Dubai-Tel Aviv flights and Dubai’s Emirates has been looking to launch flights to Israel. Etihad Airways and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) fly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.
Reporting by Steven Scheer and Ari; Editing by David Gregorio Rabinovitch; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Gregorio
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