El Al Israel Airlines: No Resumption of Direct Flights With Canada Just Yet

L TO R: Marc Cavaliere, Sr. Vice President, The Americas, El Al Israel Airlines; Gal Hana, Senior Director/Consul of Tourism for Canada, Israel Ministry of Tourism; Artzi Korostelev, Executive Vice President, Dan Tours; Justin Gosling, Director Canada, Discover The World

El Al Israel Airlines touched down in Toronto on 29MAR to update agents on the airline’s status. But officials couldn't deliver the news advisors had hoped to hear.

Direct flights between Israel and Canada were shut down during the pandemic, much to the chagrin of the airline and of Canadian advisors. Unfortunately, conditions don’t yet allow those direct routes to be re-established, officials said in a meeting with advisors and the media at the Israel Ministry of Tourism offices in Toronto.

“I’m sure all of you would like me to give you a date circled on the calendar when El Al returns service to Canada. It’s just not there,” said Marc Cavaliere, Sr. Vice President, The Americas, El Al Israel Airlines.

“Nothing has changed since we first broke the unfortunate news,” he said. “The reality of the situation is that El Al, much like many other carriers in the industry, were impacted by the pandemic in having a scarcity of resources in terms of aircraft, in terms of employees…”

“We know that you sold El Al,” he told agents. “We know you tremendously supported us. But that doesn’t take away the reality of the economics.

“Yes we are hopeful that someday in the future we’ll be able to resume non-stop service to Canada, we just don’t have a date on that as yet. It is not on the immediate calendar.”

That being said, Cavaliere said El Al is still working hard in the Canadian market and they can offer incentives to travel advisors.

Despite no direct flights, there are connections from Canadian cities to Boston, New York, Newark, Miami, Los Angeles and other cities where El Al flies.

Cavaliere said he hopes to see Porter and El Al move into a codeshare agreement for added simplicity.

In Boston, Porter and El Al even share the same terminal, he said.

Another option is having Canadians fly to Israel via European hubs such as Frankfurt and London.

L TO R: Sharon Minos, National Sales Manager of the GSA in Canada, Discover The World; Bernadette Esperas-Dagdag, Sales Manager, Discover The World; Avril Tellis-Dango, Sales Manager, Discover The World

"There are a number of carriers that very effectively (serve Canada), but not as uniquely as El Al in the true Israel fashion..."

El Al Israel Airlines flights between the U.S. and Israel are on Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Cavaliere pointed out.

Artzi Korostelev, Executive Vice President, Dan Tours, said in Israel you can start the day skiing on a mountain slope, have lunch in the desert, and go for a swim in the Mediterranean at dinner.

He also said the culinary scene in Israel has evolved significantly in the past few years. And he noted that advisors have many high-end experiences they can sell in Israel.

Fiona Kosmin, Director of Marketing and Partnerships, Canada, Israel Ministry of Tourism, urged agents to take a deeper dive into Israel and find different products to sell.

One increasingly popular option is the Negev Desert, where visitors can take jeep or buggy tours, go rock climbing, stay in a glamping tent or take in spectacular stargazing in a remarkably quiet location far from the lights of any big city.

“It’s also the only desert in the Middle East where you can buy alcohol,” she said, so visitors can enjoy a glass of wine at night as they relax under the desert stars.

Of course, the world-class cuisine, beaches and great neighborhoods of Tel Aviv are a relatively short drive to the west.

Kosmin said a new website for Canadian agents is on the way, and that there are new resources to help advisors book great trips to Israel.

The new Israel Ministry of Tourism Campaign, called “Israel, Exactly Like Nowhere Else,” will soon be unveiled in Canada, she said.

Jim Byers

Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.

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