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March 30, 2016 4:58 pm

New San Francisco-Tel Aviv Direct Flight to Strengthen Links Between Silicon Valley, Startup Nation

avatar by Lea Speyer

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United Airlines airplane at takeoff

United Airlines airplane at takeoff. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The first-ever direct flight between San Francisco and Tel Aviv will take off Wednesday evening, forging a stronger link between the US’s and Israel’s startup hubs, CNBC reported.

According to the report, United Airlines flight 954 is scheduled to depart 8 pm Pacific time to Tel Aviv, and the return flight, United 955, will depart to San Francisco early Friday morning. Total travel time for Silicon Valley techies, entrepreneurs and investors will now be a mere 14-15 hours, compared to the usual minimum 20 hours flying through connecting airports.  

An online SFOTLV.ORG petition, backed by seven influential Silicon Valley and Israeli startup CEOs, called on United to create a direct flight between the two tech hubs. The petition garnered 8,586 signatures. According to a count on the website, all of the signatories are estimated “to use 34,423 tickets (annually, round-trip).” The Facebook page “Direct SFO-Tel Aviv flight” gained 2,853 likes.

In an October press release announcing the new route, United’s senior vice president of worldwide sales said his company took note of the SFOTLV.ORG petition effort, stating: “Providing corporate customers from throughout the Bay Area and Silicon Valley nonstop service to the high-tech market in Israel has been high on our priority list. Now with the 787-9 Dreamliner, we’re delighted to make it a reality.”

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The launch of United’s direct flight signals a major shift in the already growing importance of Israel, increasingly referred to as the “startup nation” for its highly successful and innovative startup culture.

Major international technology corporations, such as Google, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and Facebook, already have major R&D hubs in Israel. Over the years, several Israeli startups have been acquired by US companies in landmark deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2013, for example, popular navigation app Waze was bought by Google in a $966 million deal.

Influential technology innovators are also keeping their eye on Israel. Recently, billionaire and owner of electric car maker Tesla, Elon Musk, secretly visited Israel to view demonstrations of a new Israeli-made technology that will be incorporated into his company’s latest self-driving systems, Globes reported.

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  • Ike

    United non stop from San Francisco to tel aviv / tel -aviv to San – Francisco 14 hrs. And 30 minutes instead of 20 hrs. With a connection flight .

  • citizenstat

    Dear Algemnerers:

    It is a pet peeve of mine that no one, including your august selves, seems to know the difference between a “direct” flight and a “non-stop” flight. Your article describing UA flights 955 and 954 as departing San Francisco (Tel Aviv) and arriving Tel Aviv (San Francisco) with no intervening landings irefers to non-stop flights. Should the flight have had an infinite number of stopovers between its origin and its final destination, as long as the passengers didn’t have to change planes the flight is referred to as “direct.” See if you can internalize the distinction.