When it comes to Israel's relationship with its Arab neighbours, they can best be described as "tense". Most of them do not recognize Israel diplomatically, including its immediate neighbours Lebanon and Syria, whom Israel also considers as "enemy states".
The State of Palestine and Jordan recognized Israel in 1993 and 1994. However, the first Arab state to recognize Israel since 1978 was Egypt.
Background on the creation of Air Sinai
President Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat initiated efforts of peace between Egypt and Israel in 1977. It was in order to regain the Sinai-Peninsula which Israel had captured in the six-day war of 1957, and ending the cold-war that had existed since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Sadat's efforts lead to the Camp David Accords in 1978 with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, mediated by US President Jimmy Carter. The accords led to the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in 1979, signed by the three leaders.
Article 6 of Annex III of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt required both nations to come into a civil aviation agreement, which occurred in May 1980. That agreement required both Israel and Egypt to designate an airline to operate services between Cairo International Airport (CAI) and Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV).
Israel's El Al was very enthusiastic and happily complied by operating a weekly flight, taking vacationing Isralies, and Egyptian Holy Land Tourists between Cario and Tel Aviv.
However, in 2012, after 30 years of uninterrupted service, El Al halted the Cairo service citing operational and security costs associated with the Arab Spring.
The government of Egypt in 1980, was, however, was not as confident. It was already facing a huge backlash from the Arab and Muslim world for the Camp David Accords and the subsequent peace treaty with Israel.
Jordan and Palestine viewed the accords as a slap to the face because they were not involved. The Arab league had suspended Egypt in 1979.
To fulfill the terms of the treaty without appearing to do so, the government of Egypt created a new division under Egypt Air, called Air Sinai. It exists only on paper. It does not own any aircraft or assets or have any employees. There is no website or phone number. The Egypt Air website does not even list Tel Aviv as one of its destinations.
Air Sinai: Egypt Air Express Incognito
Air Sinai operates under the IATA code '4D' and ICAO code 'ASD'. The Cairo-Tel Aviv flight is numbered 4D-54 and the reverse leg is numbered 4D-55.
Air Sinai currently wet-leases a small fleet of unmarked Embraer E170 aircraft, Airbus A330, and Boeing 738, painted in basic Egypt Air Express livery.
Inside, the cabin is equipped with effects from Egypt Air. The crew wear Egypt Air uniforms, the serviettes bear the Egypt Air Logo. Even the pre-flight announcement welcomes "you on board Egypt Air flight 4D-54 to Tel Aviv".
The flight from Cairo to Tel Aviv takes 1 hour, covering an average distance of 650 km. It is scheduled to take off daily from Cairo International at 9:00 AM
The return flight from Tel Aviv is scheduled to take off daily at 11:00 AM and takes 2 hours to complete the flight to Cairo.
How to book a flight on Air Sinai
Finding and booking a flight on Air Sinai proves near to impossible online on conventional websites.
However, when searching JetRadar for a direct flight from Cairo to Tel Aviv, there is at least one result where you can legitimately book a flight on Air Sinai.
If you don't prefer booking online, Mazda Tours, a tour operator based in Tel Aviv, is a leading representative for Air Sinai in Israel. They have phone numbers for US/Canada, UK and France. Their website also contains useful information about travelling in the Middle East and tips to keep safe.
Travellers have not found it easy to find check-in counters and departure gates for Air Sinai at Cairo International Airport. It may, therefore, be useful to call such tour operators and ask them for such information beforehand.
Tel Aviv: The economic centre of Israel
Tel Aviv-Yafo is the second largest city in Israel (after Jerusalem). It is the centre of commerce and technology of the country. It is also Israel's most liberal city, with a highly active and diverse nightlife of bars, dance and nightclubs staying open well past midnight.
Tel Aviv has a large LGBT community and is one of the most popular destinations for LGBT tourists internationally. It hosts the largest annual pride parade in the Middle East and Asia.
Tel Aviv was officially founded in 1909 by 66 Jewish families that gathered on a desolate sand dune, on the outskirts of the ancient city of Jaffa. Since then Tel Aviv grew into a Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene.
Today, Tel Avi is a hub of business and scientific research. It is one of the most technologically influential cities in the world, sometimes colloquially called the "Silicon Wadi". The city is the second top place in the world to found a high tech startup company, just behind California's Silicon Valley. Companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Cisco have research and development facilities here. Some well-known companies headquartered in Tel Aviv are the RAD Group, Israel Aerospace Industries, Babylon (Translation) Software and ZoneAlarm.
Tel Aviv is one of the most visited cities in the Middle East. It is also one of the safest cities in the world. Security control checks are routine when entering buildings, malls, hotels, restaurants and cafes. Soldiers and home guard volunteers patrol the city and keep their weapons with them at all times.
Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) is the main international airport of Israel, located 20km South East of Tel Aviv and about 45km from Jerusalem. It is the most secure airport in the world. It is well known for its several layers of security with uniformed and plainclothes officers on constant patrol. Every vehicle is spot-checked, every passenger goes through a quick one-on-one interview and every bag passes through a pressure chamber to trigger any possible explosive devices.
Many of the world's leading hotel chains can be found in Tel Aviv. From Mid-Tier to 5-star luxury, Tel Aviv has more than 50 such hotels, such as Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, Hilton and Dan.
Cairo: The cultural capital of the Arabs
Cairo is the largest city in the Arab world and one of the largest cities on the African continent. It is a political and economic hub for North Africa and the Arab world, with the headquarters of the Arab League and many multinational businesses being located here.
Cairo was founded over the ancient city of Memphis. Egypt's most famous landmarks, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are located on its outskirts. Cairo began as Al Fustat, a campsite of the Muslim general, 'Amr ibn al-'As, who captured Egypt in 641 AD from the Byzantines for the caliph Umar.
After the reign of the Umayyads, Egypt was later captured from the Abbasids in 969 AD by the Fatimids, who built a new capital, Al Qahirah, just north of Al Fustat. Eventually, Al Qahirah expanded and annexed Al Fustat. The English name of Cairo comes from Al Qahirah, The Victorious.
In 970 AD, the Fatimids commissioned the construction of Al-Azhar mosque. It is the second oldest continuously run university in the world. It is a deeply influential institution and highly revered in the Islamic world for the study of Theology and Islamic Law.
Cairo entered into its golden age under Sultan Salah ad-Din Ayyubi, who build the Citadel of Cairo. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of preserved historic mosques and museums. The citadel was the seat of Power for the Ayyubids and the Mamlukes. In the Osmānīye period, the citadel remained the centre of Khedive government.
Cairo is the hub of trade and commerce in Egypt. It accounts for 22% of the nation's GDP. It is a major centre for Egypt's automobile industry, manufacturing and assembling vehicles under license for the likes of BMW, Hyundai, Toyota, Daimler and many more.
Cairo is the centre of publishing, music, television and cinema of the Arab world. The annual Cairo International Film Festival attracts film submissions from across the world. It is the oldest Film Festival in the Arab World and is the only Festival in the Middle East and Africa accredited by the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (FIAPF).
Cairo International Airport (CAI) is located east of the city in Heliopolis (Masr Al-Gedida). It is a hub for Egyptair and Nile Air. It is served by many major international airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Emirates and Etihad. The most popular international destinations from Cairo are to Saudi Arabia, with more than 1.7 million passengers a year travelling to Jeddah (JED), Medina (MED), Riyadh (RUH) and Yanbu (YNB). Other top destinations from Cairo are to Dubai (DXB), Abu Dhabi (AUH), Kuwait (KWI), Amman (AMM) and Istanbul (IST).
Cairo has a tremendous range of accommodation, from low-rent budget hotels in downtown to five-star palaces along the Nile. Staying in Downtown Cairo is the best way to experience the city. The Heliopolis district is ideal for those who wish to stay close to the airport.
For a new visitor, forehand information on the districts of Cairo will help tremendously in choosing the right locations and hotels to book.
About Egypt Air
Egypt Air is the Flag Carrier Airline of Egypt and 100% owned by its government. It is a member of the Star Alliance Network and the Arab Air Carriers Organization. It serves around 70 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The domestic and regional market is operated by its subsidiary, EgyptAir Express
Egypt Air primarily operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800. It plans to expand its fleet with several more Airbus A320neo by 2020. Its subsidiary, EgyptAir Express operates a fleet of Embraer E-170.
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