Friday 30 September 2016

Industry campaign takes off for direct flights between 'tech hubs' of Dublin and Tel Aviv

Vicky Britton

Published 06/08/2015 | 02:30

Companies in Tel Aviv are keen to use Ireland's pre-clearance facility to the US.
Companies in Tel Aviv are keen to use Ireland's pre-clearance facility to the US.

A campaign to launch a direct flight between Dublin and Tel Aviv has collected over 4,000 signatures, according to an industry association.

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The Dublin-based Ireland Israel Business Network claims that individuals working at Linkedin, Facebook, Intel, eBay and Salesforce have signed the petition, which is calling for direct flights to link Israel with Dublin's US pre-clearance facilities.

"Direct flights would encourage more collaboration between tech companies to join forces and target customers in bigger economies, such as the US and China," said Clyde Hutchinson, chief executive of the Ireland-Israel Business Network.

"Many multinationals have their Israeli desks based in Dublin, so not having a direct flight is a huge inconvenience," said Hutchinson. "Executives and workers of these companies are constantly moving back and forth for meetings and events."

While Dublin is the European headquarters for tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Paypal, Dropbox, and Airbnb, Tel Aviv is home to some of the world's biggest centres of research and development.

At present, travellers from Tel Aviv must catch a five-hour flight to London followed by a separate connection to Dublin. A direct route would reduce travel time to just over five hours.

Some Irish businesses think a direct flight would mean easier access to clients.

"There is so much potential for a pipe of creativity between the two cities, but at the moment creating business relationships with our clients in Israel is really hard," said Naomi Fein, chief executive of Irish graphic solutions startup 'Think Visual'.

Fein is originally from Israel. She said that Israeli startups often embrace an assertive entrepreneurial mindset with a 'try it out' culture that she finds lacking in Ireland.

Some other Irish-based companies also say they are also in favour fo a direct link between the two countries. "Israel produces some of the best software developers in the world, but they're weak at sales and marketing," said David McGeady, founder of the Dublin startup 'Wyldsson Elite Nutrition' and who studied for an MBA in Tel Aviv. "Irish people make amazing sales people. I think there's a natural synergy to working together."

Hutchinson said that the Ireland Israel Business Network estimates flight numbers between Dublin and Tel Aviv would be in the region of 40,000, a number that would need demand to be boosted by connecting flights from North America.

"Tel Aviv is the second largest startup ecosystem in the world, yet is not connected to the number one ecosystem, Silicon Valley, by a direct flight," said Hutchinson. "Ireland's unique connectivity with the US and the ability to clear US customs is a huge selling point for entrepreneurs."

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