Israir to Stop Flying on Saturdays

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Israel Israir will cease flying services on Fridays and most Saturdays in observation of the Sabbath. Fewer airlines will now operate on Saturdays, decreasing domestic connectivity.

Reports reported that Israir’s current owners, Rami Levy and Shalom Haim, officially end all Saturday departures. The announcement came four months after they acquired the airline and announced plans to reorganize the carrier.

Under the changes, Israir will no longer operate flights (both to Eilat and overseas destinations) during the Sabbath. Flights to these destinations will resume on Saturday night once the observance is complete. Currently, 10% of Israir flights operate during the Sabbath, impacting its schedules and available capacity.

While it seems like a negative change in a business sense, Rami Levy is confident that the move will actually help the airline in the future, citing examples. In an interview, he said,

“If the airline stops flying on Shabbat, I will increase flights by 30 per cent from people who don’t fly on Shabbat. We can, for example, build hotels in Cyprus, Greece, Dubai and other places for Israelis who don’t fly on Shabbat and want kosher hotels.

“At the end of the day, we’re based in Israel. Most of the population is traditional, and 95 per cent of all businesses are closed on Shabbat. For instance, the supermarket chains that do open on Shabbat have limited turnover.”

Notably, Israel wasn’t the first airline to stop flying on Sabbath. Indeed, El Al stopped Sunday flights in the 1980s, leaving a gap in its schedule. El Al’s new owner banned Sunday flights on subsidiary Sun d’Or as well.

Now that three airlines won’t operate on Saturdays, only one Israeli carrier remains Arkia Israeli Airlines. Arkia will now effectively have a monopoly over domestic flights, possibly a boon in the future.

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