Abigail Klein Leichman
September 21, 2023

Air Haifa, the first commercial airline to be established at Haifa Airport, is preparing for takeoff to a variety of regional destinations, offering nonstop, low-cost flights aboard small aircraft.

Set to launch sometime in 2024, Air Haifa is the brainchild of former EL AL executives. Its biggest shareholder reportedly is Nir Zuk, founder of cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks.

Initial destinations are to be the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat, as well as Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and possibly Bucharest.

Haifa Airport was established by the British in 1934 as the first international airport in Israel. Today it is run by the Israel Airports Authority and is home to several flight schools and aerial mapping companies. Israair and Maltese carrier Universal Air recently started offering flights from Haifa Airport to Eilat and Greece.

Air Haifa gets ready to fly to regional destinations
Haifa Airport. Photo by Igal Vaisman via shutterstock.com

Travel news website One Mile At A Time notes that although it’s a great idea to relieve severe congestion at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, the runway at Haifa Airport is too short for large commercial jets and it will take several years to build an extension.

How bad is the overcrowding at Ben-Gurion?

The Israel Airports Authority annual report for 2022 states that “as of March 2022, the traffic of passengers and planes from and to the Ben-Gurion Airport increased rapidly and significantly.”

During 2022, a total of 20,008,532 passengers on 143,884 international and domestic flights

passed through Ben-Gurion Airport. International passengers totaled 19,221,007, an increase of 216% compared to 2021. International aircraft traffic totaled 134,016 flights, an increase of 100.21% over 2021.

This past March, nearly 2 million passengers on 13,490 international and domestic flights passed through Ben-Gurion, 57% more than in March 2022. During the summer, daily passenger traffic reached between 80,000 and 100,000 people per day.

The IAA report acknowledged that “rapid growth and lack of resources caused a sharp decline in the quality of service provided to passengers and airlines.”

While measures have been taken to ease the pain points at Ben-Gurion, many Israelis will be happy to be able to bypass the busy airport and fly out of Haifa instead.

The landing page for Air Haifa promises “convenient and safe travel experience from and to Haifa airport which will save you significant time and costs!”

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