Palestinian Airlines To Permanently Close After 25 Years of Operation
Palestinian Airlines is set to cease its operations after 25 years.
The news was announced by the Palestinian Transport & Communications Ministry.
The news comes after the airline out up its two remaining Fokker 50 aircraft for sale in September.
Palestinian Airlines was established in 1995, following the Oslo II Accord signed by both Palestine and Israel which was meant to establish an airport in Gaza.
The carrier was set up with financial support from Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. The former donated a Boeing 727, and the latter two Fokker F50s.
The airline launched operations in June 1997 with a series of charter flights from Egypt’s Port Said International Airport (PSD) to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Scheduled services began a month later, from Egypt’s El Arish International Airport (AAC) to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the Yasser Arafat International Airport (GZA) in Gaza was funded by Germany, Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Spain, and designed by Moroccan architects. It opened its doors and runway in November 1998.
The ceremony was attended by US President Bill Clinton and seen as a major step towards Palestinian statehood.
Following the inauguration, Palestinian Airlines moved all operations to its new home.
However, the by then renamed Gaza International Airport (GZA) closed down in October 2000, known as the Second Intifada.
The Israeli Air Force destroyed the airport’s control tower and radio station in December 2001.
The airline’s base was again relocated to El Arish in Egypt, from where it kept flying to Jeddah and Cairo.
Nevertheless, transporting Palestinians over the Egyptian border for flights proved too much of an added disadvantage.
The carrier gave up the Boeing 727, and an acquired Ilyushin Il-62 and suspended operations between 2005 and 2012.
Ammar Yassin, the transport ministry’s undersecretary, told the Palestinian News Network (PNN) that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not secured offers for the plane parked in Amman (Jordan) and that the one stationed in Cairo had been leased to an airline in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, he explained that the contract was suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to PNN, Palestinian Airlines had two pilots, eight employees, three administrative employees, and three ground staff.
As Gaza’s Gush Katif Airport (GHK) became defunct in 2004, along with the Jerusalem Atarot Airport (JRS) in the West Bank in 2000, Palestine remains without an operational airport.
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