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.
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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
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Cairo: The cultural capital of the Arabs
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About Egypt Air
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About Jet Radar
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