Israeli transport and infrastructure minister Miri Regev has approved a business licence for start-up airHaifa to operate flights out of Haifa in northern Israel to both domestic and international destinations, she announced on social media.

“Flights from Haifa to Eilat Ramon, Europe, and the Mediterranean continue in the making. In order to increase competition and connectivity within Israel and beyond, on land, sea, and in the air, I have signed a commercial licence for a new Israeli airline, Air Haifa,” she said.

According to a report on Israeli television news channel N12, the licence gives the nascent carrier permission to operate commercial flights to destinations such as Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey. The company will launch flight operations in early 2024, giving, as ch-aviation reported in July, an additional transport option to the residents of the city of Haifa and the rest of northern Israel.

In late June, Haifa saw its first international departure in four years when Israir (6H, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) launched four months of charter flights to Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus in collaboration with Israeli travel agency Walla Tours. ch-aviation research reveals that these flights are being carried out with DHC-8-100 9H-ONI (msn 318) wet-leased from Universal Air (VO, Malta International).

Haifa has a single 1,318-metre-long asphalt runway, 16/34, and as such remains out of bounds for larger aircraft. It currently sees no year-round scheduled flights, the ch-aviation capacities module shows. In July, it was reported that Universal Air had acquired a number of DHC-8-Q400s to target, among other routes, the underserved Romania-Israel market from Haifa.