United Airlines has launched the first direct flight between San Francisco and Israel, connecting two of the world’s leading startup hubs in the process.
The United Airlines 954 flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, takes off on Wednesday evening (8pm Pacific Time) and the United 955 returns to San Francisco early Friday morning.
Silicon Valley techies will now be able to access the Holy Land, also known as “Startup Nation,” in under 14 hours.
“Our new service between San Francisco and Tel Aviv is a direct response to customer demand,” said Dave Hilfman, United’s senior vice president of worldwide sales in a statement. “Our customers told us they wanted convenient, direct flights between these two markets. We … identified an opportunity to serve a significant customer base of high-tech-related business travelling between the Bay Area and Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.”
The Valley has held a close relationship with Israel for several years, with Google, Apple, Facebook, and Intel all setting up outposts in the country. These outposts tend to be geared towards engineering due to the abundance of technical talent that’s on offer in Israel, thanks in part to a number of technology-focused universities and also the Israeli military.
Silicon Valley tech behemoths have also acquired a number of Israeli startups. For example, Israel-based navigation app Waze was acquired by Google for $996 million (£693 million) in 2013, while Facebook bought Face.com, an Israeli company with face recognition technology, for $100 million (£69 million) in 2012.
Anat Ben Yosef, Consul at the Israel Ministry of Tourism, added: “It [the flight] will be a boon for the vast numbers of travellers in the high-tech industry who virtually commute between the Silicon Valleys of California and Israel.”
Plans to connect San Francisco to another (albeit slightly smaller) tech hub were also announced this week when Virgin Atlantic revealed it intends to run a new direct flight between Manchester and the Californian city on Wednesday.