|Founded||1989 (as Knafei HaEmek)
1996 (as Israir Airlines)
|Operating bases||Ben Gurion International Airport
Sde Dov Airport
|Fleet size||5 (+2 orders)|
|Company slogan||"Why pay more? - למה לשלם יותר?"|
|Headquarters||Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Key people||David Kaminitz (President & CEO)
Raz gur-arie (General Manager)
Israir Airlines Ltd. (Hebrew: ישראייר), usually referred to as Israir, is an airline based in Tel Aviv, Israel. It operates domestic scheduled and air taxi flights from Sde Dov Airport, Haifa Airport, Ben Gurion Airport, and Eilat Airport, as well as international charter services from Ben Gurion International Airport to Europe and Asia. It also operates VIP flights, and is Israel's third-largest airline after El Al Israel Airlines and Arkia Israel Airlines, employing some 350 staff. The airline is said to have modeled itself on US low-cost carrier JetBlue.
Israir Airlines was established in 1989 as Knafei 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 that 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 Atlantic when regular charter service to New York City's Kennedy International Airport was started in June 2004. Permission was granted to the airline to convert this to regular scheduled service by the Israeli government and the FAA on May 1, 2006. This service was 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, Israir 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, Amsterdam, Rome, Budapest, Las Vegas, and Miami - some of which are destinations currently served by the airline as charter routes.
As of December 2013, the Israir Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft, with an average age of 2.5 years and that makes the company's fleet the youngest fleet in Israel.:
After Israir was granted permission to operate scheduled service on the lucrative New York-Tel Aviv route, in spring of 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 was a significant milestone in Israeli aviation, as no airline had 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. Israir no longer flies to New York.
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 JFK, 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. However, Israir pilots 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.
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 Airport. No one was injured in the incident.
In July 2008, an Israir Airlines aircraft flew from Eilat Airport to Ben Gurion International Airport 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, as it turns out, was caused by Israir workers in Eilat when they crashed a mobile staircase into the aircraft's body. The plane was scheduled to fly to Italy from Tel Aviv, 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.
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