August 16, 2018
On Aug. 2, United Airlines announced it will begin its 20th year of service to Israel with a new nonstop flight between its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, subject to government approval. The new flight, starting May 22, 2019, will be the first to be operated by a U.S. carrier between the two cities.
On a local level, this announcement signified a huge victory for the Israeli American Council (IAC) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC). Together with the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), and the Maryland Sister State Committee, they worked on this initiative for 18 months.
“For many years, these organizations had been advocating independently for nonstop flights between the Washington-Baltimore region and Israel,” said Barry Bogage, executive director of MIDC. “More recently, we all joined forces to work together to show the airlines that a market opportunity exists with broad Jewish and business community support for nonstop service to Israel.”
In 2017, the organizations administered an online survey to gather data from the community on the level of demand for direct flights to Israel from the Greater Washington area. The survey was developed in cooperation with El Al Israel Airline, United Airlines, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).
“The vast majority of responses indicate that most people (76 percent) would prefer to use this route and would switch over from what they are using currently,” said Amir Neeman, Founder and Principal of Amir Neeman Consulting, LLC, via email. “Most people fly with United and fly Economy class (49 percent). Most people are willing to pay a premium of up to 5 percent to fly non-stop.”
Offering more nonstop service between the United States and Tel Aviv than any other U.S. airline, United’s new route to Tel Aviv will be the carrier’s fourth flight to Israel. United currently operates twice-daily service between New York/Newark and Tel Aviv and daily nonstop service between San Francisco and Tel Aviv.