|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2007)|
|Traded as||TASE: ISTA|
|Headquarters||Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Revenue||est. 1,500 million ILS|
Issta Lines Group is the largest and most prominent travel group in Israel. The company was established in 1956 with the aim of serving the student community and young adults in Israel. In addition a focus was made on collaboration with international student-oriented tourist organizations through exclusive representation in Israel. Throughout the years, the company has expanded significantly and has become the major player in the travel business nationally. In May 1996 Issta Lines became a public company. Its shares are traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange. Being a member of some of the world's leading tourism organizations, enables "Issta Lines" to provide its clients with a wide range of services including, international flights, hotels, tours, domestic and inbound travel, car rental and cruises. The Issta Group maintains over 60 branches throughout Israel, as well as several ‘Call Centers’, and online travel services. The Group employs over 1000 permanent employees in Israel and abroad. In 2013 the Group provided services to an estimate of 715,000 travelers, with a turnover of approximately $598 million.
Issta is an acronym which stands for Israeli Student Travel Association, a name which reveals its initial purpose: a student exchange organization which began operating at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1956. Issta's preliminary aim was providing discounts and benefits specifically crafted for Student Travel. Issta's first commercial step was marketing discounted seats for students in Zim Integrated Shipping Services passenger ships (formerly ZIM Israel Navigation Company). In 1958 Issta began operating as an independent company owned by the Technion Student Body. At the same year Issta leased airplanes for the first time and began marketing remarkably cheaper flights to Athens, Greece. Issta continued functioning as a charter operator and cruise retailer and during the 1960s turned Athens Airport into its hub.
Following the increase of incoming Student Travel and Volunteering in Israel during the 1960s, Issta began providing services for Incoming Tourism: Bus Tours around Israel, hostels, hotels and printed matter. Following a model outlined by the International Student Travel Confederation, Issta signed long-term contracts with various airlines and began marketing specially-priced seats for youth and students in regular flights.
During the 1970s Issta experienced the vicissitudes implied by political and economical upheavals. Yom Kippur War that took place in October 1973 led to a severe crisis in the Israeli travel industry. The war resulted in a complete discontinuation of outgoing tourism which one of its peaks is during the Jewish High Holidays. On the other hand tourists and volunteers stopped arriving in Israel. The 1973 oil crisis led to a steep increase in gas - and therefore in flight tickets - prices. As a result of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that took place in the summer of 1974 all the air carriers besides El Al Israel Airlines suspended their flights to and from Israel for several weeks.
In the summer of 1978 Issta leased an aircraft from El Al for an entire season and operated student charter flights from Tel Aviv to European destinations. In the summer of 1979 Issta leased a 260-seat aircraft from Capitol Airlines and operated its first trans-Atlantic flight to New York. Later that summer Issta operated 2 weekly flights to New York in an aircraft leased from 'El Al Charter Services Ltd.' (later Sun d'Or International Airlines). Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic flights 1979 was the most profitable year in the history of Issta so far.
In 1985 Issta joined the Israeli Travel Agent Association. Highly profitable winter and summer seasons led the company to a broad expansion. Issta committed to additional flights, extended its branches and hired more employees. In 1987 Issta owned eight branches and employed 120 workers. Its annual revenue reached $9 million and for the first time it granted scholarships for students. In 1989 Issta began launching branches in Israel's suburban and peripheral towns. Computerization of the company began in the late 1980s, a process which was a stepping stone in Issta's radical growth in the following years. Issta Direct Call Centre began operating as an informational telephone line in the beginning of the 1990s and later transformed into a reservation and marketing centre.
In 1995 Issta's gross revenue reached $90 million. The company employed 300 workers in 20 branches. In May 1996 the company was issued in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In 1999 Nofesh Yashir call center, that specializes in last minute deals and holiday packages began operating. The Issta Internet travel website was launched in 2000, the year Issta became Israel's largest travel group. In 2006 600,000 travelers used Issta's services and Issta group's revenue reached 1,500 million ILS.
Below is a list of the main subsidiaries comprising Issta Lines:
- Issta Israel (100%) - Israel's largest travel company; the core of the Group's operations.
- American Express Travel(82%) - A company specializing in business travel.
- Mabat Platinum(100%) - A company engaged in 'Incoming Travel'.
- Wallatours(50%) - A partnership with Walla, Israel's largest Internet portal. The company specializes in the marketing and sales of tourism products online.
- Nofesh Yashir (Nofy)(50%) - A partnership with 'The Blue Square-Israel Ltd' – The company operates a call center, providing travel services both domistically and internationally.
- Ortal (50%) – The company offers domestic travel services, specializing in tailor made solutions for groups, both private and unions
- Issta Sport – A leading partnership specializing in international sport events and music packages.
- Issta Style (50%) – The company specializes in 'Incentive Tours' and 'Tailor Made' packages.
- Issta Amsterdam (100%).
- Academy Travel (100%) - The company specializes in enrichment tours for high-schools. Academy Travel is a leading organizer of educational trips to Poland, educative travel worldwide & medical travel services.
- Memsi (50%) - A partnership with Memsi Tours – Travel services and solutions for travellers.
- Issta International Hotels and Assets (100%) – A real estate company targeting leisure based properties such as hotels and others such as office buildings both domestically and internationally.
- Issta Hotels (67%) – A real estate partnership.
- Issta Israel
- Issta's International Website
- Issta's Youth and Travelers Website
- Issta Lines
- Issta Lines Holland
Issta Celebrates 50 Years: 1956-2006. Tel Aviv, Israel 2006