We get 'our flight' back

EL AL will operate direct flights from Manchester to Tel Aviv after an absence of 18 years.

Following numerous false dawns, Michael Strassburger, the airline's vice-president of commercial and industry affairs, confirmed that the service will launch on May 26, 2019.

Speaking dur - ing World Travel Market in London, he said: "We were very much aware of the interest of the Jewish community in the north of England.

"For the past 12 years, I've been with El Al, it was always on the table.

"We didn't have the equipment or manpower. Finally, we have the ability to launch the service and we are very excited to be an integral part of the Jewish community, which hopefully we will be."

The community always affectionately referred to the service as "our flight", but it was dropped during the second intifada in 2000.

Now El Al - using Boeing 737-800s - will fly three times a week with return fares starting at 289 return. They will operate on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, leaving Tel Aviv at 8am and arriving in Manchester at 10.40am.

In the opposite direction, flights will leave Manchester at 12 noon.

There will be three economy fares - light, classic and flex.

The lead-in fare is for travellers with hand baggage only. One-way will cost from 199.

Economy class return, hand baggage only, will start from 289, while business class return will start from 929.

Tickets went on sale earlier this week until November 26 for travel from May 26 until July 11, 2019, and September 1 until September 24, 2019.

Israel's Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said "With more carriers flying to Israel, it is clear that there is an ever-increasing demand to visit our country."

The general manager of Travelink's Manchester office, Maurice Jacobs, said: "We've been waiting, along with the entire community, for this for 12 years.

"It is certainly needed. Having only one option on flights has created a monopoly.

"El Al is a tried-and-tested airline and is, in fact, Jewish people's favourite airline, specifically because of the way it handles security. We have already had around 50 seats booked."

EasyJet currently flies twice weekly from Manchester to Tel Aviv. And, until its collapse just over a year ago, Monarch was also operating twice-weekly flights.

Previously, Thomsonfly and had filled the gap left by El Al.

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