South Korea’s airline resumes service to Israel

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South Korea’s flag carrier, Korean Air, commenced its first passenger flight to from Seoul to Tel Aviv, Israel yesterday after a ten year break. The airline is to operate three weekly flights on Seoul-Tel Aviv line

A move Israel’s Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) believes will double the amount of visitors from South Korea over the next few years. The renewal of Korean Air flights to Israel is part of the Tourism Ministry’s Open Skies policy and the removal of obstacles hindering incoming tourism. “It is hoped that these flights, which will significantly increase the number of direct flights from East Asia and tourists from Korea, will pave the way for other Asian airlines to operate flights to Israel,” the ministry said in a statement.

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IMOT added that most tourists from the Far East currently come from Korea, which has a large Christian population.

Israeli Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balili said that some 90,000 tourists came to Israel in the first eight months of the year, a 25 percent increase over the same period in 2007. “Research shows that, within a decade, tourism from East Asia will represent a quarter of the world’s outgoing tourism traffic,” she said.

“This, in addition to the expected U.S. economic crisis, obligates Israel to develop markets in the Far East to the Israeli tourism product in order to gain a significant share of this vast market.

“It is hoped that these flights, which will significantly increase the number of direct flights from East Asia and tourists from Korea, will pave the way for other Asian airlines to operate flights to Israel,” IMOT said in a statement.

It added that most tourists from the Far East currently come from Korea, which has a large Christian population.

“This, in addition to the expected US economic crisis, obligates Israel to develop markets in the Far East to the Israeli tourism product in order to gain a significant share of this vast potential market.”

A flight ticket is expected to cost about $1,000, and continuing flights will be available to destinations like Japan and China.

Korean Air will also offer flights through Seoul to cities in Canada and in the United States, including San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and Chicago. Korean will fly B-747 Combi planes, which can accommodate 280 passengers and a relatively large amount of baggage and cargo.

Korean Air, South Korea’s largest carrier, the ninth largest airline in the world, will be the first from the Far East to fly to Israel.