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In a historic first, an El Al flight lands in Abu Dhabi

Aug. 31, 2020
3 min read
In a historic first, an El Al flight lands in Abu Dhabi
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History in the Middle East was made on Monday, as an El Al plane departed from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Abu Dhabi (AUH).

Flight LY971, a Boeing 737-900ER, carried an American and Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates as the U.S. seeks to normalize relations between the two countries. The flight departed just after 11 a.m. Monday and landed 43 minutes behind schedule in Abu Dhabi at 3:38 p.m., according to FlightRadar24. The flight has been billed as the first-ever commercial flight by an Israeli carrier to the UAE.

According to the AP, among those on the flight were Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and advisor. Kushner praised the Saudi Arabian government, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, for permitting the flight by El Al to fly over its airspace — another first for an Israeli carrier, according to AP.

This was the first El Al flight since the airline suspended all flights in July.

As we reported in May, an Etihad Airways jet from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv touched down with a load of cargo destined for the Palestinian Authority.

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

An El Al aircraft, which carried a U.S.-Israeli delegation to the UAE following a normalization accord, is pictured at the tarmac of the Abu Dhabi airport following the arrival of the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE on Aug. 31, 2020. (Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images)

It was a major development in the Middle East, one brought about by the extraordinary circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. No Emirati airline had ever landed in Israel as the two countries have had 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.

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An image published by the Times of Israel showed an Airbus A330 in Abu Dhabi 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.

An official greeting message is seen on Israeli carrier El Al's first flight from Israel to the UAE on Aug. 31, 2020. (Photo by Nir Elias/AFP via Getty Images)
Featured image by AFP via Getty Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023