A cybersecurity tycoon and a group of former officials at El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) have banded together to launch airHaifa (HFA, Haifa), a low-cost carrier to be based out of Haifa Airport in northern Israel. It reportedly aims to operate routes to Eilat Ramon and Bucharest Henri Coanda, starting with the Romanian capital this October.

According to online company data, Air Haifa Ltd was incorporated on March 20 in Givatayim in Tel Aviv’s eastern suburbs, as a private company with no government interest.

Its main investor is Israeli-American Nir Zuk, who founded the American multinational cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks in 2005 and has since invested in a range of fields from digital banking to television. He holds 170,021 of the shares in Air Haifa, the Hebrew-language travel news site Passport News reported citing Registrar of Companies data.

The next top three shareholders, founders, and company directors, each with 32,903 shares, are former El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin, former El Al CCO and Sun d'Or International Airlines CEO Miki Strassburger, and former El Al pilot and VP of Operations Lior Yavor. Last month, Zuk, Strassburger, and Yavor were appointed as directors.

Shai Babad, chief executive of the Israeli food maker Strauss Group and a former director general at Israel’s Ministry of Finance, is also an investor with 14,742 shares. Rafi Danieli, a former CEO of Israeli cargo shipping firm Zim and consultant at El Al, has 1,442 shares.

Haifa has a single 1,318-metre-long asphalt runway, 16/34, and as such remains ignored by major airlines as the shortness of the runway limits the size of aircraft able to use it and, therefore, the range of destinations. According to the ch-aviation capacities module, it currently sees no scheduled flights. However, it was reported last week that Universal Air (VO, Malta International) had acquired a number of DHC-8-Q400s to target, among other routes, the underserved Romania-Israel market from mid-September 2023, including Haifa.