Despite Ankara’s years of anti-Israel rhetoric, Israel Airports Authority’s data show 172,507 passengers traveled on Israel-Turkey route in July, a 30% increase from last year.
By Danny Sadeh
Despite the chilly relations in the diplomatic arena, Turkey has become the most active destination for flights from Israel, according to an Israel Airports Authority (IAA) summary of the month of July, which was released Monday.
The United States, which has been the most active destination of direct flights from Israel for years, fell to the third place, while Greece went up to the second place.
A total of 172,507 Israelis and tourists traveled on the Israel-Turkey route throughout July, a 30 percent increase from July 2014, when Operation Protective Edge began. It’s too early, however, to announce an improvement in the relations, as many of the passengers flying to Istanbul took connecting flights to other destinations in Europe, the Far East or America.
Greece came in second with 169,248 passengers and a 29.7 percent increase, while the US reached the third place with 136,373 passengers and an increase of less than 10 percent. (The data refer to direct flights only, as there is a major traffic of passengers flying to the US through Europe).
The route to Germany came in fourth with about 135,000 passengers, a 23 percent increase, followed by Italy with 123,176 passengers and a 20 percent increase.
A breakdown according to first destination reveals that the most active airport for flights from and to Israel was Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris with 81,737 passengers, followed by Atatürk Airport in Istanbul with 66,946 passengers and a 45.5 percent increase from July 2014, and the Antalya airport with 61,713 passengers and a 4 percent increase from the same period last year.
The airport with the fourth highest activity is John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with 61,534 passengers and a 4 percent decrease from July 2014. The main reason for the drop is a 15.5 percent increase in traffic to Newark Liberty International Airport.
Heraklion International Airport in Crete came in fifth with some 60,000 passengers and a 34.5 percent increase.
A total of 1,768,300 passengers (both Israelis and tourists) passed through Ben-Gurion Airport in July. This figure exceeded all IAA expectations, presenting a 20 percent increase from July 2014.
Among the airlines, El Al came in first with 540,000 passengers and a 30 percent share (a 9.7 percent increase from 2014). It was followed by Arkia (85,762 passengers, a 5 percent drop), Turkish Airlines (74,579 passengers, a 47 percent increase), Greece’s Aegean Airlines (62,923 passengers, an 86 percent increase) and Israir (62,642 passengers, a 60 percent increase).
A total of 8,514,861 passengers passed through Ben-Gurion Airport in the first seven months of 2015, a 4 percent increase compared to the same period in 2014.
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