Agreement will see more than 1,000 passengers travel from Israel to Qatar on direct flights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The first-ever direct commercial flight from Israel to Qatar took off from Tel Aviv for Doha on Sunday morning, with Israeli and Palestinian soccer fans on board.
Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties between the countries, months-long negotiations yielded an agreement allowing Israeli citizens and Palestinians to travel directly to the country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, played between November 20 and December 18.
Taking off at 10:55 a.m. from Ben Gurion Airport, the Airbus A320 aircraft, operated by Cypriot airline TUS Airways, was completely full, with 180 passengers on board.
At a cost of around $550 for a round trip, tickets were in high demand. Overall, TUS will operate 12 flights (six in each direction) during the tournament, enabling some 1,000 passengers to reach the Gulf state from Israel.
Due to the high demand, the company said it would look into the possibility of adding two extra flights during the final stages of the tournament.
Passengers boarding the TUS flight on Sunday (flight number U8 1162) received tickets printed with the words “making history” in Hebrew, Arabic and English, alongside the Israeli, Qatari and Cypriot flags.
Other Israelis seeking to reach Qatar for the World Cup were booking flights with layovers in Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates or Turkey, which are expected to be more expensive.
Diplomatic sources said more than 10,000 Israeli and Palestinian fans have secured tickets for the 29-day tournament.
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