Update: Flights are now available for purchase. Arkia launches service on April 16th with 2 daily E-195 flights and Israir launches service on April 17th with a daily A320 flight. Ironically, those launch dates correspond the first and second days of Passover, so exactly 3,334 years to the date after the original Egyptian exodus, Jews will be flying into Egypt.
Israel and Egypt have come to an agreement to allow nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Sharm El Sheikh, located at the southern tip of Sinai. The agreement will allow for Israeli security to ensure safety.
Arkia and Israir have already applied to begin service on the route next month.
The modern city of Sharm El Sheikh was founded by Israel after the 6 day war in 1967, prior to that it was not continuously inhabited. Egypt’s closing off access to the Strait of Tiran in May of 1967 blocked the ability for ships to reach Eilat and was considered an act of war by Israel.
After winning the 6 day war in June of 1967, Israel took control of Sinai and Sharm El Sheikh was considered critically important in order to retain control of the Strait of Tiran. Israel built the airport, a city, and tourist infrastructure there. Arkia flew nonstop from Tel Aviv and Eilat to Sharm and it proved to be a popular destination for Israelis.
Israel handed back the city together with the entire Sinai in 1982 as part of the Camp David Accords and peace treaty between Carter, Sadat, and Begin in 1978-1979. Flights between Sharm and Israel appear to have ceased in 1982.
Nonstop service between Tel Aviv and Cairo was mandated as part of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, but until this year, it was flown by Air Sinai, an EgyptAir with no livery on the plane.
Thanks to the Abraham Accords, EgyptAir took over that route earlier this year, making the first time that the full EgyptAir livery landed in Israel.
Sharm became a popular destination for Russians and Ukrainians, though tourist numbers to the city cratered after Thomson Airways Flight 476 from London to Sharm was nearly shot down by a missile on 8/23/15 and after an ISIS planted bomb took down Metrojet Flight 9268 on 10/31/15, an A321 flying from Sharm to S. Petersburg, killing all 224 onboard.
With the war in Ukraine, tourism in Sharm is once again hurting, which helped spark the recent agreement to bring Israeli tourists to the coastal city.
In 2007 in search of passport stamps, I drove with a couple of my brothers into Egypt. Word to the wise, don’t drive into Egypt, flying there is a much better way to get another stamp.
Sharm is known for its markets, beaches, resorts, and world class diving. There are several point hotel bargains. The Hilton Sharks Bay Resort is 12K-20K Hilton points per night. The Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa, the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort, and the Le Méridien Dahab Resort go for 10K-12.5K Marriott points per night. Alas, the bargain Hyatt Regency Sharm left the Hyatt chain last year.
Will you visit Sharm El Sheikh when direct flights begin from Israel? And when will Chabad of Sharm be opening their doors? 😀