El Al Israel Airlines and Israir have launched their first commercial flights between Israel and Morocco, less than eight months after the countries agreed to normalize relations.
Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said the start of nonstop air routes would help to promote tourism, trade and economic cooperation between the two nations.
On July 25, Israir became the first airline to start direct service, with flight 6H61 departing Tel Aviv (TLV) at 8.15 a.m. and arriving in Marrakech (RAK) at 12.42 p.m.
Israel’s flag-carrier El Al began operations just a few hours later. Flight LY553 took off from TLV at 11.21 a.m. and touched down in RAK at 3.19 p.m.
“We hope that now many can know Morocco better, to experience and be excited by this special country that is deeply rooted in Israeli heritage, culture and experience,” El Al CEO Avigal Sorek said.
Israel and Morocco vowed to establish full diplomatic and trade relations in December 2020 as part of a US-brokered agreement, pledging to begin direct flights and promote economic cooperation.
The US also agreed to recognize Morocco’s claim to the long-disputed Western Sahara region—although the Biden administration plans to review this decision.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that Israir plans to serve TLV-RAK once a week from mid-August using Airbus A320s, rising to 3X-weekly by Sept. 1. El Al will also offer a 1X-weekly TLV-RAK service onboard Boeing 737-900s.
In addition, El Al intends to launch a route between Tel Aviv and Casablanca (CMN) from Sept. 2, operating twice a week with 737-900ERs. Another Israeli carrier, Arkia, also plans to open a TLV-RAK service on Sept. 17 using A321neos, flying 4X-weekly between the destinations.
O&D traffic between Israel and Morocco totaled 80,015 two-way passengers in 2019, according to Sabre Market Intelligence figures. Tel Aviv-Casablanca was the top city pair, accounting for 72% of traffic. Tel Aviv-Marrakech was second with a 26% share.
Moroccan tourism minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui previously said she expects 200,000 Israelis to visit Morocco in the first year following the launch of nonstop flights.
Photo credit: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images