Israelis are flying high, both literally and figuratively. Since the Open Sky Agreement, or “Open Skies,” between Israel and the European Union was signed in 2013, the number of Israelis travelling abroad has increased by 85%. Between January to May of 2017, over 2.2 million Israelis have taken flight. Compared to the same time period last year, the aviation industry has seen a 17% increase in their Israeli clientele.
Why has the Open Sky Agreement created such a rampant rising of travel? The agreement aimed to facilitate more flights between Israel and the 27 countries within the European Union. With Israel only hosting 3 of their own airlines, the implementation of Open Skies, the aviation market was set to expand gradually over a 5-year time period, which will be fully in action in 2018. The agreement disbands the monopoly that Israeli airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir, had on the travel market and creates a greater sense of competition among the airline companies. With more travel options, airfares have dropped, and more destinations and opportunities have been created.
With the Open Sky Agreement came 27 more nations which are gradually creating opportunities for more travel, more worldwide reach and more vacation time – which Israelis are clearly taking advantage of. The first-year effect of the open skies saw an increase of 10% in travel, and with the past year at 17% the numbers are climbing steadily.
Though the average salary is low, the overall culture seems to understand where their money is worth investing – and commonly choose experiences over materials. When one is released from the army, it’s part of the Israeli tradition to spend their small amount of savings on travelling as far and as long as they can. Perhaps this is a reason why Israel is ranked 11th happiest country in the world in 2016. Awe is one of the most positive emotions to experience, and with the “skies having opened” to Israel, its citizens are choosing to soar.