BA, easyJet and Wizz Air resume flights to and from Israel

Major European airlines have started to resume flights to and from Israel, with Wizz Air, easyJet and British Airways all now flying to Tel Aviv, and Virgin Atlantic planning a resumption later this year.

Wizz Air said on Wednesday it had restarted flights to Israel from six airports in March, with plans to resume operations on further routes during the next three months. This will include the resumption of flights from Gatwick to Tel Aviv, as well as 16 other paused routes.

Most big airlines suspended services to Israel and some surrounding areas after the start of the Gaza war in October. They are only now returning.

BA resumed flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Monday but with a reduced service of one daily plane four days a week. EasyJet restarted its services to Israel on 25 March,returning to it prewar schedule.

In January easyJet revealed that the Middle East crisis had cost it more than £40m in lost trading, as flights were suspended and demand weakened.

Ryanair has also been significantly affected by the war, and revealed on Wednesday it had been forced to cancel 950 flights since October. The airline resumed flights to Ben Gurion at the start of February but suspended them again at the end of the month after a dispute over which terminal it could use.

Ryanair complained that the airport had closed its low-cost terminal 1, which meant the airline was being forced to use terminal 3, which costs more in fees.

Virgin Atlantic has said it plans to resume flights to Israel in September after initially earmarking March for a restart. The airline said: “After careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to extend our pause on flying to and from Tel Aviv up to and including 4 September 2024.

“We sincerely apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and our teams will be in contact with anyone affected to discuss their options, which include rebooking to a later date or a full refund.”

Virgin Atlantic posted annual accounts on Wednesday that showed a loss of £139m for the year to 31 December, an improvement on the £206m loss it made in 2022.

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It said continued cost discipline and cash protection meant it expected to return to profitability next year.

Oliver Byers, Virgin Atlantic’s chief financial officer, said the continued losses were largely due to interest charges incurred from loans taken on during the pandemic, as well as £100m of debt repaid to lenders in 2023.

The Guardian