Bahrain’s Gulf Air became the latest Middle East airline to signal an intention to forge ties with Israel’s El Al with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to discuss codeshare and other cooperation during an official visit from the Kingdom of Bahrain to Israel. The MOU, signed at the Hilton Tel Aviv by Gulf Air chairman Zayed Alzayani and El Al chairman David Brodet, accompanied the announcement of the planned launch of twice-weekly Gulf Air flights to Tel Aviv starting on January 7. The MOU signing and disclosure of the airline’s newest destination follows the recent normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel and the subsequent political, commercial, and civil aviation agreements signed between the two countries.
“We hope this is merely the beginning of developing further aviation opportunities and look forward to working with our friends and colleagues at El Al and support each other to achieve bigger goals,” said Alzayani. “We trust this new route will promote traffic providing commercial and social gains for both countries, while paving the path for numerous connections to the rest of our networks via the two destinations.”
The MOU lays the foundation to discuss potential joint codeshare operations between Manama and Tel Aviv, as well as on the global flight networks beyond the two carriers’ hubs. It also contains plans for greater commercial cooperation in cargo, engineering, travel technology, and “any area that can benefit both airlines and their customers.”
Last month Gulf Air operated the first-ever flight between Bahrain and Israel. Bahraini foreign minister Abdul Latif Al Zayani headed a delegation that inaugurated the new flight code GF972 and the return flight of GF973, representing the international dialing codes of both countries.
"The opportunity to explore a potential cooperation with Gulf Air is a direct result of the changes taking place in the region,” added El Al’s Brodet. It goes well beyond just the flights but with expanding in the areas of cargo, maintenance, and travel technology with El Al's Cockpit innovation hub. I welcome H.E. Mr. Alzayani to Israel and look forward to visiting Bahrain in the future."