As Israeli airlines clashed with the government over the “open skies” agreement, European low-cost airline easyJet announced plans to conquer Israel’s skies.
The company is launching these days an aggressive marketing campaign in London, aimed at promoting tourism to Tel Aviv among young people and couples without children, under the banner “Go Big in Tel Aviv.”
The activity is part of easyJet’s spring campaign in cooperation with Israel’s Tourism Minister, which includes billboard advertising and ads in leading websites and newspapers.
In the coming days, taxicabs in London will be covered with ads calling on the airline’s passengers to take a vacation in Tel Aviv and enjoy a different experience, stressing the city’s vibrant nightlife.
More weekly flights
“When we started flying to Israel, we never imagined it would be such a success,” says Hugh Aitken, easyJet’s commercial manager in the United Kingdom.
According to Aitken, easyJet’s London-Tel Aviv route is one of the company’s most successful lines, and the airline’s goal is to double the number of passengers using this route. Currently, 66% of the passengers are British, and the company is interested in increasing the number of Israeli travelers.
“Within three years we went from three flights a week on the London route to nine flights, and in a few months we’ll move up to 11 flights, at high occupancy,” says Aitken.
easyJet, the biggest airline in Europe operating flights to Israel from London, Manchester, Basel and Geneva, is eagerly anticipating the implementation of the “open skies” agreement.
Following the agreement’s approval, the company is preparing to offer flights to Israel from Rome, Milan, Paris, Nice, Berlin and every other destination the company is based in and where market research conducted by its commercial department will justify the opening of a new line.
In order to understand the meaning of the company’s “market research,” one must visit the easyJet headquarters at the Luton Airport near London and witness the operation of the nerve center of the company which carries more than 60 million passengers a year.
In the headquarters, located inside a huge hangar which is also used for aircraft maintenance, there are no offices, no separation between employees, and they all work together in harmony in an open space. Even CEO Carolyn McCall doesn’t have an office, and she sits together with all the other workers in the open space.
“Before launching a new destination,” says Aitken, “we conduct a profitability analysis. Even after we open a new destination, we examine it several months later in order to see the growth in traffic on the one hand and the level of income on the other hand. The fact that we can’t recall ever shutting down a route proves that we are doing a good job.”
easyJet’s prices, like all low-cost companies, are based on the following standard: The earlier you book your trip – the cheaper the flight ticket. For example, passengers booking a flight to London for January 2014 will pay $280 for a roundtrip ticket.
Tel Aviv is the 24th most expensive city in terms of the total cost per night for businesspeople, the 2013 Corporate Travel Index shows,
yet while hotel prices place the Israeli metropolis in the 17th place, in terms of food costs it ranks just 71st out of 100 cities around the world.
The figures, which do not include US cities, reflect the average cost of one hotel room per night, three meals and minor miscellaneous costs. According to the data, it appears that restaurant food is not so expensive in Israel – at least not for tourists.
The figures, compiled by travel management company BCD Travel and New York-based management firm Mercer and published by Business Travel News, consist of the average cost of a four-star hotel room, two taxi fares, a newspaper, a bottle of water and a magazine.
The food costs were calculated according to the January 2013 pricing for a hotel continental breakfast; lunches of a sandwich, salad and a non-alcoholic drink; and dinners of a fish, chicken or beef entrée, salad and a non-alcoholic beverage.
According to this calculation, which does not include US cities, the most expensive city in the world is Tokyo with an average cost of $548 per night – $328 in hotel costs and $220 for three meals.
Geneva ranked second with an average cost of $539 per night – $348 in hotel costs and $191 for three meals. Hong Kong and Oslo ranked third with an average cost of $522 per night, yet in Hong Kong hotel prices are more expensive ($320), while in Oslo food costs more ($220).
Tel Aviv ranked 24th, with the average total cost per night for businesspeople standing at $424 – $299 in hotel costs and $125 for three meals.
Tel Aviv is less expensive than Moscow ($501), London ($494), Paris ($494), Copenhagen ($458), Basel ($457), but more expensive than Amsterdam ($422), Brussels ($413), Frankfurt ($401), Rome ($399), Vienna ($353), Beijing ($350), Toronto ($349), Berlin ($341), Montreal ($335), Dusseldorf ($331), Prague ($308) and Budapest ($269).
The study also includes data about many cities in the United States, although the calculation of food costs there is slightly different, mainly due to the different menus.
According to the figures, the most expensive city in the US is New York with an average cost of $421 per night, followed by Washington DC ($421), San Francisco ($411), Boston ($386) and Chicago ($399).
Combining the two charts, Tel Aviv is in the overall 25th place.
The calculation of the cost of meals in the US include a breakfast of two eggs, meat, toast, orange juice and coffee; a lunch of soup, a hamburger or chicken sandwich, a slice of pie and a soft drink; and a dinner of soup, filet steak, a glass of red wine, dessert, and a cup of coffee. The listed costs do not include tax but do include a 15% gratuity.
In 2009, the Toronto International Film Festival put a spotlight on Tel Aviv. A group of anti-Israel activists tried to boycott associated films because they were made in Israel. Breslin, who believes that art should be used to bring people together, found this shocking.
“Mark really saw that the best way to fight discrimination and censorship of art by anti-Israel activists is through art itself,” said Igal Hecht, Director of A Universal Language. “He set out to foster dialogue and a deeper understanding among Canadians of Israel and the Middle East through the power of comedy.”
A year later, while planning a tour of Israeli comics at Yuk Yuk’s clubs across Canada, Breslin realized that, at the age of nearly 60, he had never visited Israel. At the suggestion of colleagues, Breslin decided to travel to the Holy Land and bring Yuk Yuk’s to Israel.
Breslin contacted the Israeli embassy and, with the help of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), he led a group of six Canadian comedians on an uncompromising and uncensored tour that aimed to bridge years of conflict through the common medium of comedy. Participants included comics Aaron Berg, Nikki Payne, Jean Paul, Sam Easton, Rebecca Kohler and Mike Khardas.
Directed and produced by Hecht and his company Chutzpa Productions, A Universal Language documents the exciting journey that Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin and six Canadian comedians have taken. For eight days the cameras documented their exploration of faith, history, and politics. In bringing together Arabs and Jews, the comics demonstrated that laughter is indeed a universal language.
A Universal Language will have its world premiere in the Toronto Jewish Film Festival on Sunday, April 14 at 8:30pm at the Bloor Cinema. To buy tickets, click here.
To view a demo of A Universal Language, click here.
According to Globes, “EasyJet began the Luton-Tel Aviv route in 2009 and the flights proved popular so that the seven weekly flights were increased to nine last November. The carrier also operates four weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Geneva and four weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Basel, while Tel Aviv-Manchester flights began last November.”
EasyJet’s UK and Israel commercial manager Hugh Aitken said, “EasyJet is a strategic committed partner of the Israeli tourism industry and we are pleased to bring more visitors to Israel. We aspire to expand our service from Tel Aviv with more European destinations, once the Open Sky agreement is implemented.”
“If we could, we would stay in Tel Aviv forever. The people are wonderful, the food is outstanding, the views are splendid, the soldiers walk around with big guns and huge smiles and they are much nicer than our civil servants.”
This is the impression Israel made on bloggers from Belgrade, Serbia who returned to their country enamored with the Jewish state.
The six skillful and curious bloggers who write on an array of topics were brought to Israel on a joint Foreign Ministry-Tourism Ministry venture.
They spent time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, Akko and the Galilee. Upon their return to Serbia they wrote that they are “completely in love with Israel.”
Throughout their visit they tweeted and posted messages on their blogs on their Israel experience. Orosh Igniacivic, who runs an online tourism group tweeted: “The moment the plane flew over Tel Aviv, we felt as if we were landing in New Belgrade. We felt as if we are wandering around our own home. We met wonderful people, the food was outstanding and the views, splendid.”
Another blogger, Milan Maglov, mainly active on Facebook (with 115,000 friends) wrote on his page: “How unfortunate that only few Serbians know what Israel can offer. I feel that I am on a dreamlike expedition. Serbia, brace yourself for a boom of great stories and pictures!! Our Israelization begins now.”
Another blogger named Milan Kamponeski, who writes under the pen name “Amitz”, wrote in his blog read by 100,000 monthly readers: “I felt at home in Tel Aviv. At the Carmel Market I asked for 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of candy and the seller pushed a whole kilo (2.2 pounds) on me. I felt like I was in Belgrade.
“Israel is a land of contrasts. Soldiers who look like mere teenagers wandering around with big guns and huge smiles and they are much nicer than our civil servants.”
Israel’s Ambassador to Serbia Yossi Levy hosted the bloggers upon their return to Serbia. “It is good to hear such warm words from the mouths of such a happy, colorful and young group of Serbians, all of whom are not Jewish and who never visited Israel before. We didn’t hear one bad word, not even about the airport security checks,” said Levy
“Israel, as it is perceived through tweets and Facebook pages, is a beautiful, young, open, friendly, safe and fun country. There is no doubt that over the next few weeks, thousands of young Serbians will discover Israel from a new and especially pleasant perspective.”
According to him, “this is the most effective and best way to circumvent stereotypes and to demonstrate to young, dynamic European audiences what the real Israel is.”