Israeli government officials and members of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce plan to meet with Delta Air Lines executives Friday, hoping to persuade the carrier to keep daily non-stop flights from Atlanta to Tel Aviv, Israel, instead of reducing the service to four days a week during the winter months.
“There is a very strong and vocal support from our members for daily non-stop flights,” Tom Glaser, president of the chamber’s Southeast U.S. division, told GlobalAtlanta.
Reda Mansour, Israel’s consul general for the Southeast U.S., will participate in the Friday meeting as will chamber leaders and a representative from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Glaser said. The Israeli Consulate General in Atlanta referred all questions about the flight and Friday’s meeting to the chamber.
Delta spokesman Kent Landers said the daily Tel Aviv flights would be reduced in frequency during the slower winter months. On the days when there are no direct flights from Atlanta, Delta customers would have to change planes at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for flights to Tel Aviv.
“This is part of our efforts to rationalize capacity to demand in the current economic environment,” Mr. Landers told GlobalAtlanta by e-mail. “As with any market, we will continue to evaluate demand by season and make adjustments as appropriate. Flights operate daily year-round from JFK and Delta will continue to ensure our customers have access to daily nonstop or one-stop service between Tel Aviv and Atlanta.”
The chamber has sent questionaires to its 500 members in the Southeast about the proposed flight reduction and will share that information with Delta on Friday, Mr. Glaser said. “The feedback from our members is that they love the service and they want it to continue,” said Glaser. “We’re providing market feedback to them.”
Part of the chamber’s mission is recruiting new businesses from Israel. The daily Atlanta-Tel Aviv flight, launched in 2006, is a big selling point, Mr. Glaser said. The chamber lobbied heavily for a daily nonstop, he said, adding that the organization is hearing from members in Israel as well about the Atlanta flight’s importance.
Delta is a chamber member and the push to keep the daily flight is meant to be constructive, not critical, Mr. Glaser said. “Our desire is to do whatever we can to help Delta make that flight successful,” he said.
As it struggles with lower passenger demand, Delta has also in recent weeks announced that it is suspending flights from Atlanta to Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China,and Seoul, South Korea.
Contact the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce at (404) 843-9426.