JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's transport minister on Sunday approved an aviation deal with Nigeria that will allow non-stop flights between the countries to begin next month for the first time, the ministry said.
The agreement, which still needs cabinet approval in Israel, will let carriers from the two countries to operate flights between Tel Aviv and cities in Nigeria, like Lagos and Abuja.
It will facilitate a smoother pilgrimage for Christians to the Holy Land, the ministry said. The trip currently requires a stopover, usually in Turkey or Ethiopia.
Nigeria's Air Peace will be the first airline to fly directly, operating twice weekly flights beginning April 20, the ministry said.
Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev said that Nigeria "maintains close ties with Israel in a wide variety of fields, alongside heavy traffic of pilgrims coming to Israel to visit the holy places in Christianity."
Launching direct flights, she said, "will contribute to strengthening of the business and cultural ties between the nations and between the governments."
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)