Air Haifa Plans To Launch ATR 72-600 Flights

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Summary

  • Air Haifa has planned to launch flights with the ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft sometime soon after receiving approval from the local authorities.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (רשות התעופה האזרחית, CAAI) should grant the airline its operating certificate as soon as September 2024.
  • Air Haifa’s CEO has previously worked as the CEO of EL AL, the national flag carrier of Israel.

Air Haifa, an upcoming airline based in Israel, is planning to launch flights in the coming months, operating flights with the ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft. However, the carrier’s launch depends on the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (רשות התעופה האזרחית, CAAI) granting it an air operator’s certificate (AOC).

Former EL AL CEO

According to the airline’s website, the new Israeli airline’s chief executive officer (CEO) will be Gonen Osishkin. Osishkin’s LinkedIn profile showed that the executive served as the CEO of EL AL until January 2021, when Avigal Soreq overtook his responsibilities. Dina Ben Tal Ganancia is the current CEO of EL AL.

Nevertheless, Air Haifa was launched as a company in March 2023, with the airline’s site pointing out that it was the first Israeli airline startup since the 1990s. The carrier was committed to growing the economy of Northern Israel, with Haifa Airport (HFA) being its main base of operations.

ATR 72-600 fuselage shutterstock_2036312822

Photo: M Dio Risdyan C | Shutterstock

Data from the aviation analytics company Cirium showed that during different periods of time between July 2019 and March 2020, Israir was the only airline flying out of HFA, serving Paphos International Airport (PFO) and Larnaca International Airport (LCA), Cyprus, and a single domestic destination, namely Eilat Ramon Airport (ETM).

In June 2023, Universal Air, a Malta-based regional carrier, returned commercial services to HFA, offering flights to LCA and PFO until December 2023. Since then, HFA has had no commercial flights from/to the airport.

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Due to the short runway length available, the types of aircraft able to serve the airport were limited.

Operating ATR 72-600s

Air Haifa pointed out that it was nearing the certification process with the CAAI, hoping to complete it by September 2024, promising to begin sales of flight tickets from HFA to ETM and Cyprus, without disclosing the exact destinations in the latter country.

An ATR 72-600 parked on a snowy airport apron.

Photo: ATR 

Interestingly, the airline has used a rhetorical question in its marketing, asking whether passengers have been tired of arriving at airports three hours before their departure, standing in ques before taking off for a flight. Instead, Air Haifa promised that passengers will be able to leave home closer to their flight time.

“Our aircraft are state-of-the-art turboprops manufactured in France, the ATR 72-600, which are very common and are very suitable for flights out of Haifa.”

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Competing against incumbents

While HFA has no scheduled flights, ETM had airlines, including non-Israeli ones, flying from the airport throughout 2023. However, those services have stopped since the war in Gaza broke out in October 2023. The airlines that have served the airport have included Israir, Finnair, Ryanair, Arkia, Transavia, and Wizz Air. Between April 2023 and December 2023, only Arkia and Israir, two Israel-based airlines, served flights from ETM.

Arkia Airbus A321neo on approach at Eilat Airport

Photo: Mike Fuchslocher | Shutterstock

Nevertheless, according to a report by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Haifa was one of the major urban population areas in the country, consisting of more than 1.1 million people. The most populous area of the country was Tel Aviv-Yafo, where over 4.4 million people resided, while Jerusalem housed around 970,000 people.

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