Swire Group, whose activities span property, aviation, beverages, marine services, and trading and industrial, is a Hong Kong listed conglomerate. It is the parent of Hong Kong carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Dragonair, and Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (Haeco) is a subsidiary. Swire Pacific and Swire Properties are the main listed arms of the group, which also owns Swire Hotels.
El Al to start weekly flight to Tel Aviv
By JONATHAN BRAUDE
ISRAEL'S national airline El Al is poised to begin weekly charter flights from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv to cash in on the country's fast growing commercial and tourism ties with the territory and expanding business in southern China.
The inaugural flight will leave Kai Tak early on Thursday, October 6 for the 13-hour journey to Bombay and Israel.
Flying El Al to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport will slash the travelling time from Hong Kong to Israel.
At present, passengers for the Holy Land must first head for a West European airport and double back to the Middle East, adding five or more hours to the journey.
After months of negotiations with the Hong Kong Government, El Al will operate its own passenger security at Kai Tak airport and hopes eventually to have the cargo security arrangements in place to take freight.
The route would be served initially by an El Al 767-300 extended-range aircraft, although general manager for East Asia Simi Seidenman said it could be upgraded to a 747-400 if the numbers justified a larger aircraft.
The basic group economy fare would be in the region of US$1,000, Mr Seidenman said.
Flushed with the success of its other East Asian routes from Beijing and Bangkok, El Al is keen to expand its connections to the region. It is investing US$642,000 in promoting the route, not only in Hong Kong and Israel, but also in Australia, Japan and Korea.
'We think this will be good news for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair too. They will have extra passengers wanting to come to Hong Kong to link up with us,' Mr Seidenman said.
El Al wants the Israeli Government to request talks on a full air agreement with Hong Kong as soon as the charter service is under way.
The new route is part of El Al's ambitious long-term expansion plans to take advantage of the Arab-Israeli Peace process and develop Tel Aviv as the regional hub of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.
The airline this year bought three 747-400 aircraft.
Israel already has overflight rights with Jordan and Egypt, although without the right to fly over Saudi Arabia, El Al cannot run a direct flight from Hong Kong.
Direct flights could cut the journey time to about 10 hours.