IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1989 (as Knafei HaEmek)
1996 (as Israir)
Operating bases
HubsHaifa Airport
Fleet size6
Destinations19 scheduled
Parent companyRami Levy group (as BGI)
HeadquartersTel Aviv, Israel
Key people
  • Uri Sirkis, CEO

Israir Airlines Ltd., more commonly referred to as Israir, is an Israeli airline headquartered in Tel Aviv.[1] It operates domestic scheduled and air taxi flights from Ben Gurion International Airport, Ramon Airport, and Haifa Airport as well as international charter services from Ben Gurion International Airport to Europe and Asia.[2] It also operates VIP flights, and is Israel's second-largest airline after El Al, surpassing Arkia Israel Airlines during the Coronavirus pandemic, employing some 350 staff.[2][3]


Foundation and early years

A former Israir Airbus A330-200 in 2008.

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 Rami Levi 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 is said to have modeled itself on US low-cost carrier JetBlue.[4]

The airline expanded operations across the Atlantic Ocean when regular charter service to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport was started in June 2004.[citation needed] Permission was granted to the airline to convert this to regular scheduled service by the Israeli government and the FAA on May 1, 2006.[5] 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.[6] After Israir was granted permission to operate scheduled service on the lucrative New York-Tel Aviv route, it also entered talks with both Boeing and Airbus regarding the acquisition of new aircraft to its fleet and replacement of its existing jets.[citation needed] The company was said to be in talks with Airbus over the A350 model.[citation needed] It also signed a deal to acquire Airbus A320 aircraft.[7] This was a significant milestone in Israeli aviation, as no airline had ever before purchased Airbus aircraft.[8] 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.[9] Israir however meanwhile no longer flies to New York and has since phased out all long-haul aircraft.

In early 2007, the airline announced plans to introduce Sky-Torah scrolls on each of its aircraft.[10] 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.[11] Later on in 2007, an Israir passenger announced he was filing a lawsuit against the airline for misadvertising the legroom they offered on their aircraft.[12]

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 were destinations served by the airline as charter routes back then.[13]

Developments since 2010

A former Israir ATR 72-200 in 2014.

Israir received the first of the two ATR 72 aircraft it had on order in early July 2011 to replace the ATR 42, with the second one expected to follow later that month.[14] In 2014, the airline posted losses of 18.4 million shekel.[15] On 25 May 2015, an Israir Airbus A320-200 has been seized by Portuguese authorities while in Lisbon over unpaid debts to Portuguese airline euroAtlantic Airways for a leasing contract in 2008.[15][16] Also in May 2015, El Al confirmed it was in talks to merge its subsidiary Sun D'Or into Israir. While Sun D'Or would be dissolved, El Al would gain shares in Israir instead.[17]

In October 2020, it was announced that the company is being auctioned off, the bids need to be submitted by November 8. On October 4, the first bid was submitted by Rami Levy and Shalom Haim through BGI Investments.[18][19] On October 13, Dubai-based NY Koen Group, headed by Naum Koen, has announced its intention to participate in the auction.[20][21][22]


Israir A320-200

As of May 2024, the Israir fleet consists of the following aircraft:[23]

Israir Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
Airbus A320-200 6 174
Total 6

Incidents and accidents


  1. ^ "Contact Israir Airlines Archived 2009-04-29 at the Wayback Machine." Israir Airlines. Retrieved on 23 September 2009. "Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. 23 Ben Yehuda Street"
  2. ^ a b "About Israir Airlines". Israir Airlines. Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  3. ^ "Israir Airlines (Israel's Second Largest)". YnetNews. 2006-12-28. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  4. ^ "Israir Airlines information". Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  5. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (2006-06-17). "More competition between Israel, New York". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
  6. ^ Dalia Tal (2008-08-06). "Israir to end New York flights". Globes. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  7. ^ Krawitz, Avi (2006-12-21). "Israir Airlines to buy two Airbus A320s". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2007-07-20.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Airbus marks first breakthrough in the Israeli market with Israir Airlines A320 order". Port2Port. 2007-04-23. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
  9. ^ Tal, Dalia (2008-03-20). "Israir adds scheduled flights to New York". Globes. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  10. ^ "Israir Airlines Introduces the 'Sky-Torah'". PR Newswire. 2006-12-27. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  11. ^ "Flying Torah". Airline Business. 2007-01-03. Archived from the original on 2007-07-14. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  12. ^ Ben-Zur, Carmel (2007-05-13). "Customer files lawsuit against Israir Airlines over reduced legroom". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  13. ^ "Israir seeks designated carrier status for US, European destinations". Globes. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
  14. ^ "Israir takes delivery of first ATR 72-500". 12 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  15. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "EuroAtlantic seizes Israir A320 over sour 2008 lease deal".
  17. ^ "Israel's el al confirms talks to merge Sun d'Or with Israir".
  18. ^ "Rami Levy opens bidding for Israir". Globes. 2020-04-10. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  19. ^ "Rami Levy makes NIS 70 million offer to purchase Israir Airlines". The Jerusalem Post | 5 October 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  20. ^ staff, T. O. I.; Agencies (13 October 2020). "Dubai-based company to bid for purchase of Israir Airlines". Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  21. ^ "Dubai-based NY Koen Group to bid for Israir". Globes. 2020-10-13. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  22. ^ שומפלבי, אטילה; זומר, נווית (2020-10-15). "איש העסקים היהודי ירכוש את ישראייר? "אולי נשנה את השם ל'ישרא-דובאי'"". ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  23. ^ " - Israir". 4 May 2024.
  24. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  25. ^ "N.Y. runway tapes reveal how jets nearly collided". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  26. ^ "Israir Airlines test flight nearly shot down by F16s". Globes. 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  27. ^ "Israeli plane makes emergency landing". The Jerusalem Post. 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2007-05-24.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Probe: Did Israir hide plane damage?". Ha'aretz. Archived from the original on 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2008-08-10.

Media related to Israir at Wikimedia Commons