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American Airlines May Have Dropped Israel Route to Deepen Ties with Arab Countries

American Airlines’s decision to drop their Philadelphia to Tel Aviv, Israel, flight was not “strictly financial” as the airline claimed last week.

Sources within the aviation industry suggest the real reason the world’s largest airline carrier cut the Israel flight is due to their intention to deepen ties with Arab airlines that have flights to places like Jordan, Qatar, and Malaysia, through its Oneworld alliance.

“Profitability wasn’t a problem,” the unidentified industry source told Israeli economic news site the Marker, according to Haaretz. “The past year hasn’t been easy for the airline industry in general, but that’s far from saying that the route wasn’t profitable. No one would have operated a money-losing route for so many years,” the source said.

American Airlines spokesperson Casey Norton said the airline lost $20 million last year.

The final flight for that route will take place on January 4, 2016. Haartez notes that American flew about 95,000 passengers on the route so far this year; an increase of 2.7 percent from the same time in 2014.

Philadelphia is home to close to 280,000 Jews.

A team of American executives will head to Israel next week to oversee the practical steps of shutting down the U.S.-Israel route that leaves the fate of 19 staff there hanging in the balances.

U.S. Airways inaugurated the short-lived daily service to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in 2009, which was inherited by American Airlines following their 2013 merger.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.

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