Israel aviation: El Al loses share to LCCs as EU skies open

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The phased introduction of the EU-Israel Open Skies agreement, signed in 2012 and executed in 2013, reached its final stage in summer 2018. This provides for the removal of frequency restrictions and has contributed to a 15% seat capacity increase in the overall Israel market this summer compared with last summer.

Israel's leading airline, El Al, has been losing share for a number of years, whereas low cost airlines have enjoyed a surge in their share of seats and passengers. Wizz Air, easyJet, Pegasus Airlines and Ryanair are now particularly active in Israel (but other LCCs are also present). El Al considered a merger with Israir Airlines, but the plan was withdrawn after the two sides failed to agree terms and Israel's Antitrust Authority opposed it.

European destinations dominate international schedules to/from Israel, while long haul routes represent a relatively small share of capacity. To a very large extent, for geopolitical reasons, Israel is an end of line destination served from the west (Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America), but with very few direct links to its east and south.

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