PH, Israel reopen air talks for direct Manila-Tel Aviv flights

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — Israel is eyeing to revive talks on launching direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manila by 2024, its top diplomat said Monday.

Israel's Tourism Deputy Minister Ilan Marciano said he will reopen talks on direct flights from Manila to Tel Aviv during his meeting with Tourism Secretary Cristina Frasco.

"My goal is to bring you to Israel as tourists," Marciano said. "It's one of the goals. We want to do it in 2024."

Philippine Airlines was supposed to launch its maiden direct flight to Tel Aviv in 2019, but it was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filipinos flying to Israel currently have to transit via the Middle East, like Dubai and Turkey, and then board another flight that will take them to Israel.

Israel is also aiming to double its trade with the Philippines to $1 billion or ₱56 billion by 2024. 

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that more than 4,700 Israelis traveled to the Philippines in 2020, with arrivals dipping by 90% down to 452 in 2021 due to the pandemic.

CNN Philippines correspondent Lois Calderon contributed to this report.