Israeli airline Arkia has announced its plans to launch direct flights between Tel Aviv and Colombo, starting from October 31, foreign media reported.
Reportedly, the direct flights are planned to depart Israel on Tuesdays, while flights from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake take off for Tel Aviv on Wednesdays.
Waruna Wilpatha, former ambassador of Sri Lanka to Israel, has told JNS, an Israeli newspaper, that he is pleased to see a project he initiated is coming to fruition.
He stressed that it was next to impossible to promote tourism and increase trade between the two countries without direct air connectivity.
The former Sri Lankan envoy further stated that he had worked tirelessly to initiate direct flights between Israel and Sri Lanka during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and he was hoping to have them in place by October 2022 during the peak tourist season.
Wilpatha, who was the Sri Lankan diplomat in Israel from 2019 until last February, told JNS that approximately 6,000 Sri Lankans live in Israel, with the majority of them working as caregivers for the elderly.
Earlier this year, a special discussion regarding the commencement of direct passenger flights from Tel Aviv in Israel to Katunayake was held between the two nations at the Ministry of Ports Shipping & Aviation under the patronage of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.
Representatives from the civil aviation authorities of Israel and Sri Lanka including Israel’s Air Transport Division Senior Director were in attendance. At this discussion, the officials agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to inaugurate direct flights between Tel Aviv and Colombo.