Israel’s national airline, El Al, announced  Wednesday the launch of direct flights connecting Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport with Tokyo’s Narita International Airport in Japan. The airline will operate three round-trip flights a week, starting in March 2020.
Flight time between Tel Aviv and Tokyo will be 11 hours and 15 minutes, with the return journey taking 12 hours and 30 minutes. This would be a time savings of several hours off of the current shortest routes, which require connecting flights.
The current travel time between Tel Aviv and Tokyo can be as long as 24 hours.
The company will soon begin selling tickets for flights operated by three of El Al’s new Boeing Dreamliner 787 jets. Over the past year, their airline has been adding long-haul flights, especially to the United States, with its newly acquired fleet.
El Al recently launched flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, as well as Nice in France and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
The launch of the first direct scheduled flights between Israel and Japan comes as the two countries deepen ties on the economy and tourism. Over 40,000 Israelis traveled to Japan last year, and half that number of Japanese tourists visited the Jewish State.
Israel’s ambassador to Japan, Yaffa Ben-Ari, recently told  the Jerusalem Post that Japanese businesses are seeking more commercial ties with Israel.
So far, they have invested a total of $6 billion in Israel. Trade between the two countries has been valued at more than $3.2 billion in 2018 — a billion-dollar increase from 2009.
In January, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko led a delegation of 200 business people to Israel as part of what was described as an inspection visit. “The Arab boycott has lost substance,” Seko said at a press conference, explaining the interest his nation’s businesses have in Israel.
In May 2018, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu visited Japan in 2014, and Abe first visited Israel in 2015.
[Photo: Adam Moreira (AEMoreira042281) / Wikimedia Commons]