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Etihad just made the first-ever known airline flight from the United Arab Emirates to Israel

May 19, 2020
3 min read
Etihad just made the first-ever known airline flight from the United Arab Emirates to Israel
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A commercial flight from the United Arab Emirates has landed in Israel — the first time that an airline flight from the UAE is known to have arrived in the country. On Tuesday, an Etihad Airways jet from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv touched down with a load of cargo destined for the Palestinian Authority. It's a major development in the Middle East, one brought about by the extraordinary circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. Up to now, no Emirati airlines had landed in Israel; the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

The Associated Press reported that Etihad "operated a dedicated humanitarian cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on 19 May to provide medical supplies to the Palestinians," and that "the flight had no passengers on board."

Relations between Israel and Arab countries remain a highly sensitive issue; the airplane that flew to Tel Aviv bore no airline logos nor any evident national identifiers except for a registration. An image published by the Times of Israel showed an Airbus A330 in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday being loaded with cargo bearing Emirati flags. Painted all white and lacking any visible Etihad logos, it bore the letters YP on its front landing gear doors, consistent with an Airbus A330-200 with the Emirati registration A6-EYP — which several fleet-tracking sites show is part of the Etihad fleet.

A tweet by Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon showed a flight track from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv by an A330 registered A6-EYP, confirming the identity of the jet. In the tweet, Danon expressed a wish that passenger flights would soon follow.

Flight-tracking site FlightAware also showed A6-EYP flying between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv on Tuesday, on a circuitous route that avoided Saudi and Jordanian airspace — the most direct flight path — and going instead over Iraq and Syria.

Screenshot from FlightAware

Israeli flag carrier El Al flies similarly circuitous routings to points east of Israel, in order to avoid the airspaces of countries with which it has, officially, adversarial relations. For example, El Al's flight LY83 from Bangkok to Tel Aviv skirts the Arabian Peninsula to avoid Omani and Saudi airspace — as the FlightAware track of the last flight before it was suspended due to the pandemic in March shows.

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Screenshot from FlightAware

Emirati government officials did not respond to requests for comment from the Associated Press, but the government-run news agency WAM did publish a story — complete with a video showing A6-EYP being loaded and unloaded — saying that the UAE had shipped 14 tons of medical gear "to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and its impact in the occupied Palestinian territory." The article made no mention of a flight to Tel Aviv or of state-owned Etihad carrying it out.

An Israeli official who spoke to the Times of Israel confirmed that the plane carried aid provided by the UAE to the Palestinians through the World Food Program, and that the flight had been coordinated with the Israeli government. It's a measure of how sensitive the issue of Israeli-Palestinian, and Israeli-Arab, relations is that the official would only speak on on condition of anonymity.

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more