Istanbul:Turkish aviation authorities approve Israeli flag carrier’s request to operate two weekly cargo flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul transporting goods; first plane touched ground on Sunday.
El Al will begin operating cargo flights from Tel Aviv to Turkey for the first time in a decade, Hebrew media reported on Sunday.
The Israeli flag carrier’s first plane landed in Istanbul Sunday morning to collect 24 tonnes of humanitarian aid and protective equipment for U.S. medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkish aviation authorities approved El Al’s request from last week to operate two weekly cargo flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul transporting goods.
The company will use its Dreamliner aircraft for the route.
El Al operated direct commercial flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul until Turkey grounded the line in 2010 due to an incident in which nine pro-Palestinian activists attacked Israeli soldiers and were killed while trying to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The event led to a strain on Israel-Turkey relations.
The cash-strapped airline has been locked in negotiations with Finance Ministry officials over Israel backing a $400 million loan to help it through the coronavirus crisis.
Foreign visitors are barred from entering the country and incoming Israelis must be quarantined, which combined with a global fall in demand for travel has hit El Al hard.
El Al CEO Gonen Usiskin said in a letter to Netanyahu that the demands would send the airline into liquidation.
“We ask that you instruct the Finance Ministry to amend the plan,” Usishkin wrote, adding it “refuses to connect El Al to a ventilator, as most countries in the world have done”.