BETHLEHEM - The Palestinian national airline plans to resume flights between Amman, Jordan, El-Arish, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, a company official said Friday.
The director-general of Palestinian Airlines, captain Ziad al-Beda, said an official response from the Saudis would be received in two days. A company representative is in Saudi Arabia to coordinate and study the possibility of resuming flights between El-Arish and Jeddah.
He highlighted that there were regular flights in both directions in 2000. The last flight, he said, was in 2009 carrying hajj pilgrims.
Al-Beda says the next step after the El-Arish-Jeddah line would be from El-Arish to the United Arab Emirates.
Palestinian Airlines resumed weekly flights between Amman and El-Arish on May 9. Al-Beda said flights were going on regularly and without significant obstacles.
The tiny Palestinian Airlines has a fleet of three aircraft and about 100 employees. All the staff including pilots, engineers and technicians are Palestinians. It operates out of El-Arish and offers charter services to Saudi Arabia during the annual Muslim pilgrimage season.
The fleet was based at Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza until an Israeli ban on Palestinian commercial flights grounded planes and airstrikes damaged the airport in 2001. The company was established in 1995, during the tenure of late president Yasser Arafat.
The airline could yield about $1 million to the Palestinian Authority every year if flights operate regularly, according to Al-Beda. However, he said, more than financial benefits, Palestinian Airlines embodies Palestinian sovereignty as it carries the flag of Palestine.