Some 15 years after Swedish airline SAS ended their direct flights from Stockholm to the Red Sea resort town because of the 2nd Intifada, the route is reopening as Israel’s Tourism Ministry and Eilat hotels are offering incentives to airlines to fly in tourists.
By Ronit Zilberstein
Decades ago, Swedes used to enjoy escaping from their long, cold winter with a direct flight to the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat, where they often would spend some time soaking up the sun as the first stop en route to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
That came to an end when direct flights from Sweden to Eilat ended some 15 years ago, because of the Second Intifada.
But the Stockholm-Eilat route is now recommencing, thanks to an agreement signed by the Israel Airports Authority and the Tourism Ministry with Sweden’s national air carrier, SAS.
The agreement is part of the Tourism Ministry’s “winter flights” program, under which airlines are paid 45 euros ($50) by the Tourism Ministry and an additional 15 euros ($16) by the Eilat Hotel Association for each passenger they bring in. Tourists will be able to purchase week-long package deals, from Saturday to Saturday.
Israeli aviation officials believe the agreement will also allow Israelis who want to visit Sweden to enjoy discounted flights from Uvda Airport, just outside Eilat.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the re-inauguration of the route, SAS Sales Director Anders Wahlstrom said that Eilat offers Swedish tourists a wide range of options: white beaches, “amazing” hotels, and night life.
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