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Ex-Israir Airlines Boeing 757 at Ben Gurion Airport.
The airline no longer operates this model of aircraft

Israir Airlines ( ), usually referred to as Israir, is an airline based in Tel Avivmarker, Israelmarker. It operates domestic scheduled and air taxi flights from Sde Dov Airportmarker, Haifa Airportmarker, Ben Gurion Airportmarker and Eilat Airportmarker, as well as international charter services from Ben Gurion International Airportmarker, to Europe, Asia, and North America. It also operates VIP flights and is Israel's second largest airline after El Al employing some 350 staff. The airline is said to have modeled itself based on US low cost carrier, JetBlue.


Israir Airlines was established in 1989 as Kanfei HaEmek (Valley Wings), before changing its name to Israir Airlines in 1996. It is now wholly owned by the Ganden Group. The airline began with domestic services from Eilat Airport, Ben Gurion International Airport, Sde Dov Airport, and Haifa Airport in the North of the country. It expanded its operations to begin international charter flights in 1999 building up a route network which now covers much of Europe, as well as regularly flying to other destinations in Asia, Africa, and North America.

The airline expanded operations across the Atlanticmarker when they started regular charter service to New York City's Kennedy International Airportmarker in June 2004. Service to JFK in New York City ended on September 13, 2008. Permission was granted to the airline to convert this to regular scheduled service by the Israeli government and the FAA as of May 1, 2006. This service will be discontinued in September 2008, due to escalating fuel prices and the expectation of a drop in the number of passengers due to the weakness of the dollar at the time.

In early 2007, the airline announced plans to introduce Sky-Torah scrolls on each of its aircraft. These were effectively Torah scrolls which would be carried on board its flight for Jewish passengers to use for prayer. This is a first for any Israeli airline and was seen by many as a means to attract many Haredi passengers to the airline at a time when they were showing great dissatisfaction with arch-rival, El Al, following their flying of aircraft on the Shabbat. Later on in 2007, the airline sparked controversy once again when a passenger announced he was filing a lawsuit against the airline for misadvertising the legroom they offered on their aircraft.

In early 2008, when restrictions were lifted on Israeli airlines destinations, Israir applied for designated carrier status on routes from Israel to London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Amsterdammarker, Rome, Budapestmarker, Las Vegasmarker, and Miamimarker - some of which are destinations which are currently served by the airline as charter routes.


Israir operates the following services (as of March 2009):


The Israir Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of 12 September 2009) [94222]:

Israir Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Routes Notes
Airbus A320-211 2 European
ATR 42-320 3 Domestic and short haul

After Israir was granted permission to operate scheduled service on the lucrative New York-Tel Aviv route, in spring 2006 it entered talks with both Boeing and Airbus regarding the acquisition of new aircraft to its fleet and replacement of its existing jets. The company was said to be in talks with Boeing over the 787 model. It also signed a deal to acquire Airbus A320 aircraft. This is a significant milestone in Israeli aviation as no airline has ever before purchased Airbus aircraft. In April 2008, the airline received an Airbus A330 for its New York flights to replace the Boeing 767 aircraft it had previously been wet-leasing.

Incidents and accidents

In June 2001, one of Israir's ATR-42-320 aircraft was damaged beyond repair following a heavy landing at Ben Gurion Airport. Despite the aircraft being written off, no passengers were injured in this incident.

On July 6, 2005 a fully loaded Israir 767 accidentally taxied onto an active runway at JFKmarker and a Douglas DC-8 cargo aircraft narrowly avoided collision by taking off at full throttle above them, with only 45 feet of clearance over the 767. Israir pilots actually modified their incident reports to claim that the cargo plane had taken off beside the plane, rather than directly above. The pilots and several high ranking Israir officials were dismissed in the scandal.

In May 2007, an Israir Airlines aircraft on a test flight was almost shot down by Israeli F-16 jets after it entered a demarcation zone where airlines are expected to identify themselves. Later that month, on May 23, an Israir flight had to make an emergency landing following smoke build up in the cabin on approach at Berlin-Schönefeld International Airportmarker. No one was injured in the incident.

In July 2008, an Israir Airlines aircraft flew from Eilat Airportmarker to Ben Gurion International Airportmarker with a small hole in its frame. The hole was discovered by mechanics at Ben Gurion and there is an ongoing probe as to whether or not Israir knew of the hole which was done by Israir workers in Eilat when they crashed a mobile staircase into the aircraft's body. The plane was next scheduled to fly to Italy and at an altitude of over 10,000 feet, the plane would most likely have experienced a decompression, possibly explosive, and could have resulted in injuries or fatalities.


  1. " Contact Israir Airlines." Israir Airlines. Retrieved on 23 September 2009.

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