New research shows that the domestic air mail service that existed in Palestine a) lasted much longer than previously known, and b) included not just mail between Tel Aviv and Haifa, but also mail from Jerusalem. All the details are in the latest edition of my free Handbook ( - see the relevant entries starting 28 Oct 1938 until August 1940.


In short, mail was flown (by Palestine Airways) between Tel Aviv and Haifa (and vice versa) from 28 October 1938 using the Tel Aviv Municipal Air Port (i.e. Sde Dov).


This service was standard, not requiring extra postage, and valid for all “first class mail” (i.e letters, registered mail; not printed matter, newspapers or bulk printed matter). All other type of mail continued to be transported by convoy between the two cities.


In early November 1938 (prior to the 6th) the service was expanded to include Jerusalem: first class mail to Haifa continued to be transported by convoy to Tel Aviv – but then it was transferred directly to the airline at its offices (i.e. it didn’t go through the posts here) and was flown to Haifa (and vice versa).


This was not a contract between the Mandate government and a private Zionist company: Palestine Airways had been taken over by the British Air Ministry already in 1937 so this arrangement was basically between governmental bodies. Furthermore this arrangement was not the result of transportation problems arising from the Arab Revolt taking place at the time: the press reports focus on the effectiveness of domestic airmail and the enthusiastic support the Palestine Postmaster General gave to the initiative. In addition, it appears that this air mail arrangement lasted until the demise of the airline at the end of August 1940 (having lost its aircraft by repossession to the war effort). In other words domestic air mail existed for almost 2 years (one year before WWII and one year during the war).

Of note, this air mail arrangement was not promoted and publicized by the Post Office to the general public: apart from the initial press releases, the arrangement was an established fact and default method of work for the postal service. No surcharge was required and no routing method needed to be indicated - as such, the few “first day” covers we sometimes see bearing an airmail etiquette are obviously philatelic as those stickers were entirely unnecessary, and this also helps explain why we won’t be spotting domestic air mail covers in a pile of covers between the affected cities, because no such outward distinction was needed. By all appearances this domestic airmail service was identical in nature to the "All-Up" Empire-wide airmail service run by Imperial Airways, which launched in Palestine 1 March 1938: there too, within the British Empire first-class mail was automatically carried by air at a flat rate of 10m (with all other types of mail continuing to be sent by surface mail) without the need for "air mail" etiquettes or routing instructions - it was simply more practical for her postal services to transmit air en-masse by air then by surface.

Timetable: non first class mail was sent between Tel Aviv and Haifa (and vice versa) once a day by convoy; air mail was dispatched twice a day northwards from Tel Aviv (10:45 & 15:45) and twice a day southwards from Haifa (08:30 & 13:55). Already by 6 November the press was reporting 100kg of mail being transported daily between Tel Aviv and Haifa.


Nevertheless these covers are not that easy to come by nor do many of them bear same-day dispatch and arrival postmarks (see the issue of “unaccountable backwardness” in the article below - it seems to have persisted even here). I’d like to see a late fee domestic air mail cover... One big question is: how was mail to smaller locales routed by Tel Aviv and Haifa handled – were these also flown between the cities and then transported by surface? To be determined…


Here is a same-day domestic airmailed cover, from Haifa to Tel Aviv, posted on 13 Sept 1939 at 7am: it was taken on the 10:30 flight departing Haifa and arrived in TLV at 11:05 (as per the timetable), at the Palestine Airways office. From there it was transferred to the postal service where it was backstamped 2:15pm arrival. Oddly these same day dispatch/arrival covers are not so easy to find...