The Israeli airline Israir inaugurated this Sunday (25) the first direct trade route between Israel and Morocco, seven months after the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The plane, which was carrying around 100 people, took off from Tel Aviv for Marrakech, the tourist capital of Morocco, Israir spokeswoman Tali Leibovitz told AFP news agency.
“This road will help promote tourism, trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,” Israeli Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov said.
Israir flight 61 took off at 8:15 am local time with flight attendants wearing traditional Moroccan clothing and serving Moroccan food. The journey takes five and a half hours.
The company plans two to three commercial flights between cities per week.
In December 2020, Morocco became the fourth Arab country to normalize its relations with Israel, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, with the impetus of the government of former US President Donald Trump.
The pacts are part of what the Republican called the Deal of the Century, a plan to try to end decades of conflict in the Middle East, but seen as pro-Israel because it ignores multiple demands. Palestinian.
The first direct flight between Tel Aviv and Rabat, the capital of Morocco, took place in December of last year, with Israeli government officials.
In addition to Israir, El Al Israel Airlines will also fly from Tel Aviv to Marrakech, and made its maiden flight this Sunday. The airline, hit hard last year by the coronavirus pandemic, said it would operate up to five flights a week to Morocco on Boeing 737 planes.
Israeli companies Arkia and Royal Air Maroc are also expected to launch flights next month.
Morocco was home to one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries until Israel’s founding in 1948. An estimated 250,000 Jews left the country. Morocco for Israel between 1948 and 1964.
Today, only about 3,000 Jews remain in Morocco, while hundreds of thousands of Israelis claim to have Moroccan ancestors.
Moroccan officials describe their deal with Israel, including opening offices, as restoring ties, which Rabat cooled in 2000 in solidarity with the Palestinians.
In March, Morocco’s Tourism Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui said she expected 200,000 Israeli visitors in the first year after direct flights resumed. This compares to the total of around 13 million foreign tourists per year before the pandemic.
Tourism receipts in Morocco fell 53.8% to 36.3 billion dirhans, or about 19 billion reais, in 2020.