With football being as popular as it is, the upcoming 2022 FIA World Cup is generating interest in far more than the 32 countries that have qualified for the tournament. While Israel failed to reach the finals, and hasn’t done so since 1970, tens of thousands of fans from the country still have plans to attend the spectacle.
No direct flights
However, for those that do wish to make their journey, there is a slight complication in place. Despite various controversies regarding the hosting of the tournament, this year’s FIFA World Cup is taking place in Qatar, a country that, as an article published by Doha News notes, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
As such, Qatar is refusing to accept any non-stop flights from Israel, even though an estimated 30,000 fans from the country will travel to the tournament. Nonetheless, the Qatari government has given dispensation for 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 layover’ at its Larnaca International (LCA) base as part of its flights from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) to Doha Hamad International (DOH). This stopover is purely to ensure that the flight enters Qatar from Cyprus, and won’t require a change of crew or aircraft.
Photo: Doha Hamad International Airport
An expensive affair
According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, TUS Airways has been permitted to operate these flights, which also have to return to Tel Aviv via Larnaca, from November 20th to December 15th. This time frame covers the majority of the tournament, although the third-place playoff and final matches will take place afterward.
The leg from Tel Aviv to Larnaca is reportedly scheduled to take just 50 minutes, with the Larnaca – Doha sector clocking in at three-and-a-half hours. Despite these relatively short flight times, the special nature of the flights, which will avoid overflying states that are hostile to Israel, means they will command high fares.
These will start at $555, with the flights leaving Tel Aviv between 08:00 and 09:00 local time. Meanwhile, their arrival into Doha will be between 15:00 and 16:00. Israeli fans do, of course, also have the option of booking connecting itineraries with the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian, and Turkish Airlines.
Photo: Getty Images
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Despite not having any diplomatic ties 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 a deal with European and Jordanian authorities to allow Qatar-bound flights to overfly it.
This will shorten flight times for fans traveling to the tournament from the likes of Europe and North America. Commenting on the change in regulations, Israeli Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli stated that “Israel is showing sportsmanship and opening its aerial borders for the benefit of the passengers.”
What do you make of the lack of non-stop flights between Israel and Qatar? Are you planning to travel 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