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    Israel pushes for direct flights to Philippines by 2024

    Israel is hoping to launch direct flights to the Philippines next year to improve trade and tourism opportunities, its top diplomat said Monday.

    “Both governments will work together to open direct flights,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Filipino and Israeli business groups at a forum in Makati City.

    “We will start in 2024. I think this will be great news for the tourism industry and the business community,” he said.

    “Together we can take our bilateral trade volume to new heights… Both countries are free markets,” he said.

    Israel

    “My goal today is to build a bridge for the business community to increase the trade volume between our countries and embrace prosperity for both of us,” he said.

    In 2022, Philippine Airlines said it would launch direct flights to Tel-Aviv, but the plan has yet to be realized as the flag carrier cited geopolitical concerns.

    But direct flights may be more plausible now as Israel enjoys more stabilized diplomatic ties with Arab nations following the signing of the Abraham Accords, said Yael Ravia-Zadok, Head of Economic Affairs Division of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “The governments are ready to explore ways to support it because direct flights are a key instrument in order to increase business, tourism for the benefit of both economies,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the Israel-Philippines Business Forum.

    “Definitely, this is something we would like to look into in order to make sure it happens because this is a very important engine for collaboration,” she added.

    Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that more than 4,700 Israelis traveled to the Philippines in 2020, with arrivals dipping by 90 percent down to 452 in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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