After more than a year being courted by Miami International Airport, Israeli airline El Al is wooed: A Tel Aviv flight is coming back to Miami.
El Al Israel Airlines will begin offering three weekly, nonstop flights to the Israeli city in November, MIA announced Wednesday. The airline previously flew the Miami-Tel Aviv route, before canceling service in September 2008.
The return of the route is a major win for the airport, which has been in talks with the airline since at least February 2016, when El Al officials visited MIA. Aviation Director Emilio González and a group of executives from MIA flew to Tel Aviv in February 2017 to continue discussions with the airline at Ben Gurion International Airport, where El Al has a major hub.
IN OUR EFFORTS TO MAKE MIA A TRULY GLOBAL GATEWAY, ISRAEL HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF OUR TOP STRATEGIC TARGETS BECAUSE OF ITS UNIQUE AND HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL LOCATION, AND BECAUSE OF ITS DEEP CULTURAL TIES WITH MIAMI.
The new route marks El Al’s sixth in North America — the others are New York (to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport), Los Angeles, Boston and Toronto — and its first in Florida and the southeastern United States. The airline flies to 36 destinations from Israel and serves hundreds of other destinations throughout the world.
“In our efforts to make MIA a truly global gateway, Israel has always been one of our top strategic targets because of its unique and historically significant global location, and because of its deep cultural ties with Miami,” González said in a statement.
William D. Talbert, III, president of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in an interview last month that the addition of El Al will fuel the region’s evolution into a technology hub.
“The importance of El Al is [significant] as Miami evolves into diversifying its economy,” Talbert said.
EL AL IS THE THIRD MAJOR AIRLINE TO BRING NONSTOP FLIGHTS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST TO SOUTH FLORIDA IN RECENT YEARS.
El Al is the third major airline to bring nonstop flights from the Middle East to South Florida in recent years. Qatar Airways inaugurated flights to Doha from Miami in June 2014 and Emirates Airlines followed in December 2016 with flights to Dubai from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Last month, Emirates cut daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to five a week as part of a 20 percent roll back of its U.S. routes in response to President Donald Trump’s administration’s attempts to ban travelers from some Muslim-majority nations and recent U.S. security measures.)
The Middle Eastern flights are part of a larger effort by both airports to add new routes and new airlines in recent years. At MIA, El Al is the sixth new airline this year alone, adding to a list that includes low-cost carriers Volaris with flights to Mexico and WOW air with flights to Iceland.