Air Canada has announced a “significant expansion” of services between Canada and Israel with the launch of a seasonal non-stop flight between Montreal and Tel Aviv and an increase in its Toronto-Tel Aviv service.
The carrier will offer twice-weekly flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv from June 22 to Oct. 16.
Flight AC82 will depart Montreal at 6:35 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays, arriving in Tel Aviv the next day at 12:15 p.m. Return flight AC83 will leave Tel Aviv at 1:55 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, arriving in Montreal at 6:20 p.m.
The Montreal flight will be aboard a 292-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft with three levels of service, including Air Canada’s business class.
Tickets were scheduled to go on sale Feb. 15.
The airline ceased its regular flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv in 2000.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s current service to Israel will increase starting this summer to daily from six days a week, year-round.
The new services represent a 28 per cent capacity increase over summer 2016, Air Canada said in a statement.
They are in response to “increased demand in business, leisure and cultural travel between both countries,” said Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu.
Coming only months after Montreal’s trade mission to Israel, the new route “is a concrete example of the strength of the economic, family and community ties that unite us,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said in a statement.
Air Canada has been flying to Israel for 22 years.
In January, the discount airline Air Transat announced it would begin twice-weekly non-stop flights between Montreal and Tel Aviv, also from June to October.
The flights, on Wednesdays and Sundays, are available from Toronto with a connection in Montreal.
Air Canada’s announcement “is great news for everybody in Ontario and Quebec” and for travellers who can connect to Toronto and Montreal, said Jerry Adler, Canadian director of Israel’s ministry of tourism.
Adler said he doesn’t think Air Canada’s move was in response to Air Transat’s expansion of its Israel service.
“Things like that don’t happen overnight. It was in the planning, I’m sure, for a long time.”
It’s too early to tell, he added, whether competition between the two airlines will translate into lower fares.
“I hope it does change the price structure across Canada. Competition is good.”
Adler said he also hopes Air Canada will go on to institute year-round flights between Montreal and Israel.
El Al ended its service to Israel from Montreal in the late 1990s. There are no plans to reinstitute the flights “at this time,” Dinah Kutner, general manager for El Al in Canada, told The CJN.
Kutner said El Al will begin service between Israel and Toronto aboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliner sometime in 2018.
El Al, she said, will continue its Toronto-Tel Aviv schedule of three weekly flights in the winter (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) and four during the summer (Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).
In 2014, Toronto’s Porter Airlines and El Al signed an agreement that uses Newark, N.J., as a connecting point between Tel Aviv and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Under the agreement, travellers are able to check baggage through to their final destination.