Etihad Aviation Training (EAT) has signed a contract with Israel’s Israir Airlines to provide full-flight simulator training for Israir’s Airbus A320 pilots as the recent normalization of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Jewish state breeds still tighter commercial ties between the countries. The agreement calls for Israir to dry lease EAT’s simulators and for Israir instructors to conduct training at Etihad’s training facility in Abu Dhabi.
The first-ever official commercial flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates took place on August 31, two weeks before an exchange of ambassadors and a White House ceremony to finalize the normalization of relations between the two countries took place in Washington, D.C. On October 19, Etihad Airways staged the first-ever commercial passenger flight by a Gulf Cooperation Council country to Israel, when the Abu Dhabi-based carrier brought Israeli delegations from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital for a two-day visit.
A month later Etihad and Israel’s El Al signed a memorandum of understanding covering the eventual introduction of joint codeshare services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, along with closer cooperation on cargo operations, engineering, loyalty, destination management, and use of pilot and cabin crew training facilities.
Etihad plans to start daily services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv on March 28.
“Following Etihad’s announcement to commence services to Tel Aviv, EAT is delighted to further commercial opportunities with Israel by providing comprehensive aviation training services to Israir Airlines,” Etihad Aviation Training managing director Paolo La Cava. “Continuing our commitment to providing highly skilled pilots by offering state-of-the-art training facilities, EAT is looking forward to working with Israir Airlines and is anticipating further collaboration with the airline to cement this landmark agreement.”
EAT has partnered with more than 40 airlines to provide pilot and flight navigation procedures training at the Zayed Campus in Abu Dhabi, where it maintains Airbus and Boeing full-flight simulators and fixed training devices.
In a statement, Israir CEO Uri Sirkis recalled the genesis of the eventual deal between his airline and Etihad. “Close to the signing of the Abraham Accords peace agreement, I met [Etihad Aviation Group CEO] Tony Douglas and…Captain Paolo La Cava at Etihad headquarters,” he said. “The short visit revealed to me a rare opportunity to use the EAT simulator facility, just a three-hour flight away from Israel…Beyond the economic and professional benefits, I believe that the more meeting points we find between the countries, the stronger the tourism movement will be. This is the true peace.”