Israeli flag Carrier EL AL together with its domestic rival, Israir launched direct flights between Israel and Morocco’s Marrakesh on Sunday 25, after close to eight months since a US-backed normalization deal between Morocco and Israel was reached.
According to Reuters, the deal agreed last December involved the upgrade of diplomatic relations and relaunching direct flights, part of a deal brokered by the United States that also included Washington’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Israir flight 61 took off at 8:15 a.m. for the 5.5 hour flight, with stewards wearing traditional Moroccan garb and serving Moroccan food while El Al Israel Airlines flight 553 took off at 11:35 a.m.
El Al had previously operated its first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Rabat in December 2020.
Morocco was one of four regional states to normalize ties with Israel in 2020, along with Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.
EL AL connects Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport with two cities in Morocco including Casablanca and Marrakech operated up to five times a week with the Boeing 737-900 aircraft, while Israel holiday and leisure airline Israir will fly two times a week to Marrakesh.
“This route will help promote tourism, trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,” said Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.
Low cost airline Arkia also eyes services to this route and will deploy its Airbus A321 beginning next month while Royal Air Maroc is also expected to start flying on this route from next month.
Morocco was home to one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries until Israel’s founding in 1948.
The North African country is home to the largest Jewish community in Africa, which numbers around 3,000 while more than half a million Israeli Jews claim to be of Moroccan descent.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo