The first-ever direct flights between Israel and Japan have been chartered for September, Globes reported Thursday.
The four flights — two in each direction — have been chartered by three Japanese travel agencies on Sun D’or, El Al’s charter flight unit. The planes will travel from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport to Japan’s Narita airport in Tokyo.
The goal of the chartered flights is to eventually establish a permanent direct route between the two countries.
“This is the first step on the way to achieving our main aim – direct and scheduled flights,” said Yaffa Ben Ari, Israel’s ambassador to Japan.
The route of the chartered flights is estimated to be between 11.5 and 12.5 hours. This would be a time savings of four hours off of the current shortest routes, which require connecting flights.
“The flights will help put Israel on the Japanese tourist map and signal to that market that Israel is an attractive destination,” Ben Ari elaborated. “At the same time, Israeli tourists can enjoy a shorter and more convenient route to Japan, which is one of the fastest growing tourism markets for Israeli tourists.”
Gilad Cohen, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific, added, “We hope that this new step will also encourage Japanese businesspeople and contribute to strengthening economic and trade relations.”
Tourism in both directions has increased significantly in recent years. Last year 35,000 Israelis visited Japan, compared with 15,000 just five years ago. Also last year, 20,000 Japanese tourists visited Israel, marking a 15% increase over 2017.
News of the direct charter flights between Israel and Japan comes on the heels of a report last week that Japanese businesses are seeking more commercial ties with the Jewish State.
In January, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko led a delegation of 200 businesspeople to Israel as part of what was described as an “inspection tour.”
“The Arab boycott has lost substance,” Seko said at a press conference, explaining the interest his nation’s businesses have in Israel. “There are companies in Israel that have great innovative ideas, and Japan has technology to turn those ideas into reality. We have a mutually complementary relationship.”
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