Next stop Eilat! Scuba divers check in at Monarch's desk at Luton Airport for the airlines inaugural flight to Ovda last week.

Next stop Eilat! Scuba divers check in at Monarch’s desk at Luton Airport for the airlines inaugural flight to Ovda last week.

Monarch Airlines has started weekly scheduled flights to and from London to Tel Aviv and Eilat for the first time.

The airline’s new routes connect Luton to Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and Ovda in the south, which is 45 minutes’ drive from the resort of Eilat. The airline will fly from London to Tel Aviv on Sunday, Monday and Thursday while Thursday also sees flights to Ovda.

“Tel Aviv and Ovda are growing in popularity, and with the diverse offerings of both these destinations we are sure they will be a very popular choice for winter short breaks and holidays,” said Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield. “We also look forward to welcoming visitors from Israel to the UK.”

Monarch’s entry into the market gives more choice to British Jews and others who want to fly between the UK and Israel. The increased competition is also expected to have a healthy effect on prices: EasyJet and British Airways already fly to Israel, so outbound flights can now be less than £100, while inbound flights have recently been advertised for less than £50.

Monarch’s launch is a further boon to the Israeli tourism industry, following huge investment in Eilat. “This is a great indication that Israel has the support of major carriers,” said Yariv Levin, Israel’s Minister of Tourism. “It will allow for even greater choice and accessibility for travellers.”

He added that the agreement with Monarch was made possible only after Israel signed the controversial Open Skies Agreement in 2013.

See: http://www.monarch.co.uk