An aircraft belonging to Israeli carrier “Arkia Airlines” landed at Essaouira-Mogador International Airport on September 7, marking the inauguration of a new air route between Essaouira and Tel Aviv.
Arkia’s Airbus 321 landed with over 200 passengers on board, including members of the Moroccan Jewish community who arrived in Essaouira to celebrate the Hiloula of the Holy Rabbi Haïm Pinto.
To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held at the airport in the presence of several tourism stakeholders and operators, who praised the inauguration of this new air route, which mirrors travel influencers and airlines’ interest in Essaouira, a city of hospitality and friendliness, with a rich history and heritage.
The new route also reflects the efforts invested by the relevant parties to promote Essaouira as a tourist destination and strengthen the positioning of the Kingdom’s different destinations in the Israeli market.
In a statement to the press, Acting Commander of Essaouira-Mogador International Airport, Mohamed Arhjoul, explained that this new Arkia route will operate with a frequency of one flight per week.
Arhjoul stated that this new route is an ideal opportunity to strengthen Essaouira’s air services, adding that the inauguration of new air routes linking the city to Bordeaux (France) and Düsseldorf (Germany) is expected at the start of the upcoming winter season.
The commander also stressed that this dynamic is a result of the growing demand for Essaouira as a destination, which boasts significant tourist potential, noting that the airport is currently linked to seven international destinations (Marseille, Charleroi, Paris-Orly, Bordeaux, Madrid, Las Palmas, and London), which are operated by four airlines (EasyJet, Transavia, Ryanair, and Binter).
The Moroccan official recalled that in the first seven months of 2023, Essaouira-Mogador International Airport had welcomed around 100,788 passengers, recording an increase of 66% over the same period in 2019.
For his part, President of Essaouira’s Provincial Tourism Council (CPT), Redwane Khanne, stated that “today, we are writing a new page in the history of relations between Morocco and Israel in the field of tourism.”
“It is the fruit of a dynamic process launched by the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT) to promote Morocco as a tourist destination on the Israeli market,” stressed Khanne, praising the inauguration of this route, which will give “a new impetus and another dimension to tourism activity, and will certainly positively impact the sector and economic activity in Essaouira.”
For their part, members of the Moroccan Jewish community who arrived on board the inaugural flight commended the new route and the warm welcome extended to them, expressing their delight at returning to “the land of their ancestors” accompanied by their families to celebrate the Hiloula of the Holy Rabbi Haïm Pinto.
The new air route is part of an agreement between the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT) and Arkia Airlines to expand and strengthen air links between Morocco and Israel and promote tourism between the two countries.
Under the terms of the agreement between ONMT and Arkia, Israel’s second-largest airline, is committed to establishing, since September, a direct Tel Aviv-Essaouira route offering 11,000 seats.
The agreement also includes the doubling of Arkia Airlines’ capacity to Marrakech from David-Ben-Gurion International Airport to 22,000 seats. The three flights to Morocco will be operated by Airbus 321.
Through this partnership, Arkia will provide a total of 33,000 new seats to Morocco.
Israeli tourist arrivals are constantly on the rise, with almost 75,000 tourists visiting Morocco in 2022, up by 87% in comparison with 2019.
As of the end of June, Morocco’s airports welcomed approximately 39,000 Israeli travelers, an increase of 35% compared with the same period in 2022 and 146% compared with June 2019.