Israel’s El Al resumes cargo flights to Turkey after decade-long absence

Israeli national carrier El Al resumed cargo flights to Turkey after a suspension lasting a decade, reported on Sunday.

The first plane touched down in Istanbul on Sunday morning, the website said. The Turkish aviation authorities have approved El Al’s request to operate two cargo flights a week between Tel Aviv and Istanbul, it reported.

Sunday's flight was to collect and transport 24 tonnes of aid for U.S. medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic, said.  

Turkey suspended El Al’s commercial flights between Istanbul and Tel Aviv in 2010 after Israeli soldiers boarded a Turkish ship off its coastline carrying pro-Palestinian activists seeking to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip. An ensuing gunfight killed nine of the activists.

The airline has been in negotiations with Israel’s Finance Ministry over a $400 million loan to help it weather the financial impact of the coronavirus, said.