Austrian eyes 3rd daily flight to Tel Aviv

Marking 50 years of flying to Israel, airline looking to boost capacity on route as early as next summer once open skies agreement with Europe takes hold

Austrian Airlines is looking to boost capacity on its route to Tel Aviv as early as next summer once an open skies agreement between Israel and Europe takes hold, a senior official at Austrian said on Wednesday.


The open skies deal starts to go into effect next April and the relaxation of restrictions and quotas on flights between Israel and European Union countries is expected to increase competition and help Israel's economy.


Stephan Linhart, director of international sales at Austrian, said the Austrian and Israeli governments have yet to approve more flight frequencies but he believes an announcement will be made very soon.


Austrian, owned by Lufthansa, flies two roundtrip flights a day between Tel Aviv and Vienna. Linhart said a third flight a day would be most likely since the route already uses Airbus A321s and a shift to wide-body Boeing 767s would mean fewer passengers and higher operating costs.


To be able to add another flight by the summer, Austrian would need at least three months notice from the government. If not, then the extra daily flight would have to wait until 2015, he said. It also needs approval from upper management but the carrier has discussed the issue since the open skies deal was forged earlier this year.


Israel is Austrian's third largest intercontinental market after the United States and Japan and one of the airline's most profitable, Linhart told Reuters at an event to mark 50 years of flying to Israel.


A third daily flight, he noted, could be used to attract more Israelis to Vienna.


Linhart said he did not see a bid by Israel's government to boost the number of low-cost carriers as a threat.


"It's also an opportunity," he said. "It increases demand and increases passenger potential. We are working in a highly competitive market ... so this would just add to that."



פרסום ראשון: 11.14.13, 07:31
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