Israel's El Al Airlines to fly 14 weekly flights to Dubai

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Israel's El Al Airlines is seen during a ceremony marking the arrival of the first of the airline's order of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets, at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - El Al Israel Airlines will operate 14 weekly flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai from Dec. 13, it said on Monday, joining a handful of carriers launching routes between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Israel and the UAE agreed in September to establish diplomatic relations, breaking a longstanding taboo and paving the way for economic cooperation.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Israeli flag carrier El Al plans to operate three flights a day on Sundays and Thursdays and two flights on other days of the week. Flights will be on Boeing 737-900 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft, it said.

El Al noted that until the mutual visa entry agreement enters into force between the countries, or until there is another bilateral solution, Israeli travellers can enter the UAE with a foreign passport that allows entry to the destination and/or receive a valid visa prior to the flight.

Israel's borders have for the most part been closed to foreigners during the COVID-19 pandemic, with only Israeli passport holders allowed entry.

Smaller rivals Arkia and Israir have said they plan to begin flights to Dubai next month. State-owned Dubai airline flydubai also said it would start twice-daily fights between the UAE’s business hub and Tel Aviv this month.

El Al and Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national airline, last week signed a deal to explore deeper cooperation such as joint codesharing between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv and other destinations.

Etihad has said it intends to start daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv starting on March 28 next year.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by David Goodman)