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El Al, Aeroflot Ink Accord to Fly Immigrants to Israel

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The Jewish Agency for Israel has signed an agreement in Moscow with the Soviet state airline, Aeroflot, to fly emigres directly to Israel, in conjunction with El Al.

The signatories were Zvi Barak, head of the agency’s Finance Department, and Vladimir Tichonov, director general of Aeroflot.

Tichonov told Barak that Aeroflot would now negotiate directly with El Al, the Israeli national airline, to implement the service, which will be operated by an Aeroflot-El Al subsidiary, Transair.

The accord signed in Moscow follows an announcement made in New York last week by El Al President Rafi Harlev that the Soviet Foreign Ministry had ended any objections to direct flights for immigrants to Israel.

Harlev, just back from Moscow, thought flights could be put in place from Moscow or another appropriate Soviet or Balkan city. Latvia also gave a thumbs-up response for immigrant flights to commence from Riga, Harlev said.

The accord culminated two years of negotiations, during which emigres had to travel to Eastern European capitals to get flights to Tel Aviv.

It was bad news for Israeli businessman Ya’acov Nimrodi, who had hoped the Jewish Agency would sign a contract with his newly established airline, Aerolicht, to provide direct service for immigrants from Soviet cities.

Using planes chartered from Aeroflot, Nimrodi had hoped to provide daily direct flights from several Soviet cities carrying as many as 300,000 olim over the next two years.

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