Israeli airlines fear losing flight slots to Dubai carriers over security row

Israeli airlines fear losing flight slots to Dubai carriers over security row
2 min read
08 February, 2022
Israeli airline flights risk being suspended tonight due to disagreements between Israeli and Emirati services over security procedures in Dubai.
Several Israeli flights going through Dubai's airport have been suspended. [Borja Sanchez Trillo/Getty]

Israeli airlines have voiced fears they could lose their flight slots to Dubai due to the Israeli security services' failure to find an agreement with their Emirati counterparts.

Three Israeli companies, El Al, Israir, and Arkia operate direct flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv but on Sunday an Israeli official warned that current security arrangements with Dubai International Airport were set to expire on Tuesday.

Israeli airlines fear that they could lose their runway slots at the popular Middle East tourism destination over the row.

"We hope a solution can be found so that we can continue operating this very important route," Stanley Morais, the acting director of the Israeli airline company El Al, told The Times on Monday.

Israeli secret police Shin Bet has so far failed to reach an agreement with its Emirati counterparts to ensure the security of flights bound for Israel go ahead with plans to divert carriers to Abu Dhabi.

El Al and other Israeli companies now fear their slots will be taken over by UAE budget airline FlyDubai and Dubai carrier Emirates, which also run direct flights to Israel, according to the UK daily.

Shin Bet, which runs security for all Israeli flights across the world, has requested full access to the airport for its staff. The dispute with Dubai's security services is allegedly over the standards they use.

Flights out of Abu Dhabi have not been affected by the issue, which could be due to some security services being managed by individual emirates and not by the federal Emirati authority.

"The way this has been portrayed from Israel’s side is that there are questions about security at Dubai, which is absolutely not the case," a source at the airport told The Times.

"This ruling has nothing to do with the scrutiny of Dubai airport's security, which is one of the safest in the world, but is simply an issue of the Israeli authorities not playing by a foreign country's legal system," the source added.

Israeli companies have operated direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai since 2020, when the UAE and Israel normalised their relations as part of the US-sponsored "Abraham Accords".

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have since visited Dubai.