India Air's Chairman and Managing Director, Ashwani Lohani, will be in Israel in a fortnight to finalize details after having announced in October that Israel was on the map of new destinations for his airline.
Lohani will be leading a delegation of senior employees in his company, and they are to be the hosts of the Ministry of Tourism. Until now, only El Al has offered direct flights to the subcontinent.
Negotiations between the ministry and Air India have been going on for a long time as part of the former's goal to increase tourism from eastern Asia, specifically China and India. As part of this policy, the Chinese Hainan Airlines began its Beijing–Tel Aviv line in May, breaking El Al's monopoly on that route. Hainan intends to expand its list of direct Chinese destinations for Israeli customers in the near future.
According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, 45,000 Indian tourists visited Israel in 2016, which was a 13 percent increase from the preceding year.