It will be easier and cheaper to get to Israel as a result of a new United States-Israel air services agreement formally signed yesterday.
By placing increased reliance on market forces and reducing governmental restrictions on international aviation, the agreement, signed here by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, exemplifies the kind of pact the Carter Administration hoped would result from guidelines given U.S. negotiators last year.
Under the agreement:
Israel immediately gets two new landing points of its choosing for scheduled services in the U.S., and two more points next August. At this time Israel's El Al Israel Airlines has a route only to New York. It is widely expected that the carrier may choose Chicago and Los Angeles first.
Both countries get the right to designate an unlimited number of airlines to operate scheduled or charter services. Trans World Airlines currently is the only U.S. carrier offered scheduled air service between the two countries.
Unrestricted opportunities for airlines of both countries to operate any number of charter flights from any city is guaranteed. The charters will operate according to the charter rules of the country in which they originate and won't require the prior approval of the other country. This provision should expand the availability of charter flights considerably. Charter flights were not covered by the earlier 1950 agreement, and for many years, Israel totally banned charter flights.
Only in the last two years has Israel accepted charters from the three continental states bordering the Pacific Ocean under restrictive conditions.
A unique provision seeks to encourage price competition. For the next year, the U.S. and Israel governments agreed not to intervene with airline pricing decisions unless they believe air fares are predatory, discriminatory or an Abuse of monoply power. Beginning Aug. 1, 1979, however, air fares proposed by either country's airlines go into effect unless both governments disapprove them.
"What this means to the traveler is more flights at lower costs from more cities." Transportation Secretary Brock Adams said of the agreement yesterday. "That is what the Carter Administration's international aviation policy is all about - and this agreement is an outstanding example of how it can benefit two great nations."
The U.S.-Israel agreement is one of half-dozen or so negotiated in the last year that embody principles of the Administration's foreign air policy, as laid down by the President in letters to negotiators last year.
A formal policy declaration is expected within the next few days.