With football being as popular as it is, the upcoming 2022 FIA World Cup is attracting interest from more than the 32 countries that have qualified for the tournament. While Israel failed to reach the final, and haven’t since 1970, tens of thousands of fans in the country are still intent on watching the show.
No direct flights
However, for those wishing to make their journey, there is a slight complication in place. Despite various controversies over the hosting of the tournament, this year’s FIFA World Cup is being held in Qatar, a country which, as noted in an article by Doha News, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
As such, Qatar refuses to accept any non-stop flights from Israel, even though around 30,000 fans from the country will be traveling to the tournament. Nevertheless, the Qatari government granted a waiver to TUS Airways to connect the two countries indirectly. As you may know, the airline is based in Cyprus.
Therefore, TUS Airways plans to include a “diplomatic stopover” at its Larnaca International Base (LCA) as part of its flights from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) to Doha Hamad International (DOH). This stopover is only to ensure that the flight enters Qatar from Cyprus and will not require a change of crew or aircraft.
Photo: Doha Hamad International Airport
An expensive affair
According to Israeli media Ynet, TUS Airways has been authorized to operate these flights, which are also due to return to Tel Aviv via Larnaca, from November 20 to December 15. This period covers the majority of the tournament, although the third place playoffs and final matches take place afterwards.
The Tel Aviv to Larnaca leg is expected to take only 50 minutes, with the Larnaca – Doha sector taking three and a half hours. Despite these relatively short flight times, the special nature of the flights, which will avoid flying over states hostile to Israel, will result in high fares.
These will start at $555, with flights departing from Tel Aviv between 08:00 and 09:00 local time. Meanwhile, their arrival in Doha will be between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Israeli fans, of course, also have the option of booking connecting routes with Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines.
Photo: Getty Images
Despite having no diplomatic relations with Qatar, Israel has made concessions regarding its airspace in relation to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. Indeed, The Times Of Israel reported earlier this year that the country had reached an agreement with European and Jordanian authorities to allow flights to Qatar to fly over it.
This will shorten flight times for fans traveling to the tournament from countries like Europe and North America. Commenting on the change in regulations, Israel’s Transport Minister Merav Michaeli said that “Israel shows sportsmanship and opens air borders for passengers.”
What do you think of the lack of non-stop flights between Israel and Qatar? Are you planning to go to the 2022 FIFA World Cup? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Sources: Doha News, Middle East Monitor, The Times Of Israel, Ynet