Update, 3/15/23: El Al and the Australian Government have come to an agreement that will bring nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne by June 2024! The service is made financially viable thanks to Oman and Saudi Arabia opening their airspace to Israeli airlines.
El Al stands to receive route launch incentives from both Australia and Israel for the new flight, which is expected to operate 3 times per week by a 787-9 Dreamliner.
The flight time should be several hours less than the 16-17.5 hours it took during the one flight that El Al previously flew to Melbourne, as a COVID rescue flight on the 787-9:
The new great circle routing should look like this:
Update, 3/31/20: While these flights have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, El Al is operating a nonstop rescue flight between Tel Aviv and Melbourne.
Update, 12/10/19: You can now purchase these tickets! Tickets purchased from Priceline today are refundable until at 11:29pm ET tomorrow.
El Al will fly from Tel Aviv to Melbourne on April 2, 23, and May 14. El Al will fly from Melbourne to Tel Aviv on April 4, 25, and May 16.
Will you fly on the inaugural commercial flight between Israel and Australia?
Originally posted on 11/27/19:
Globes is reporting that El Al will test 2 trial flights nonstop from Tel Aviv to Melbourne in the 2nd quarter of 2020 and that seats will be for sale to the public. The 787-9 operated test flights will be about 10 days apart. No commercial airline has ever flown between Israel and Australia.
The flight to Australia will clock in at 16:45 while the return will take a whopping 17:45. El Al’s longest flight currently is Tel Aviv to Los Angeles at 15:15.
El Al says the test flights are necessary to see if people will pay a premium for the nonstop and to see if people will tolerate the flight length.
El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin told Globes that, “We will only be able to see whether the trial will lead to us opening the route on the basis of performance. We’re talking about a very long flight, and we’ll have to examine various aspects of it, including fuel consumption, and the behavior and physical health of passengers and crew.”
Quite frankly, I don’t really understand what the point of these test flights are.
It seems similar to the gimmicky test flights from London and JFK to Sydney that got Qantas a ton of media attention. I posted my thoughts on that in the first Sunday roundup post.
Surely El Al knows how much fuel will be burned via computer modeling.
And while Qantas made a big deal about passenger and crew health as their flight was 19.5 hours long (An hour longer than existing Newark-Singapore service), I’m not sure what exactly El Al is testing with a flight under 18 hours? Surely they can check with airlines that already run flights of that length, such as Dallas to Sydney?
Demand for a nonstop is always a question and computer modeling can only predict that up to a point. But I’m not sure how 2 flights (I’m assuming they mean 2 round-trips?) will provide enough data to know if a flight 3 days a week will be a success.
When United wanted to test demand to a new destination, like Papeete, they launched it as seasonal only, 3 flights per week service. When that was a success the flight went year-round. That provides enough data to know if the flight will be a success. United is using the same tactic to determine if flights from Newark to Cape Town are viable. It’s hard to get enough data to predict the success of a flight from 2 test flights.
My assumption is that like Qantas’ test flights, this is a PR move to generate buzz for new service, with the cover story of testing how passengers feel during the flight.
And I hope it goes well, because connecting Israel with Australia is pretty cool!