ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Ron Desantis was in Central Florida Tuesday as the first nonstop flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, departed Orlando International Airport.
El Al Israel Airlines launched weekly direct flights between the two cities that will run through the end of August.
"This service links our unique innovative community to Israel," Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown said.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials said the flight will provide easier access to Israel while also providing a tourism boost to the local economy.
"I think if people know about it and people realize it's an option, I think there will be a lot of interest," DeSantis said.
The announcement came after DeSantis led a four-day trade mission in May to help boost the state's economy and solidify its bonds with Israel.
"We had 23 strategic agreements advancing economic and academic relationships," DeSantis said.
According to airport officials, Tuesday's flight was about half full, but those with a ticket said the service is long overdue.
"It cuts off a good six hours," Meira Pernicone said. "To be able to fly without a connection. Oh, my goodness. How nice is this?"
The nonstop flights to Tel Aviv are scheduled to depart every Tuesday through Aug. 27. Officials said interest will then be evaluated with hopes of extending the service throughout the year.