United just announced that they will launch 3 weekly flights from their Washington DC/IAD hub to Tel Aviv starting 5/22/19.
It’s no secret that Tel Aviv performs extremely well for United. Continental’s former CEO Larry Kellner, who was sacked for refusing to merge with United, was quoted as saying that Newark-Tel Aviv was their most profitable route. They started flying to Tel Aviv in 1999 and quickly challenged El Al’s dominance on the route by adding a 2nd daily flight from Newark in 2004.
USAirways’ then president Scott Kirby called Philadelphia-Tel Aviv among the most lucrative routes in their network, before American merged with USAirways and suddenly axed the route, citing alleged poor route performance. Mr. Kirby jumped ship and is now the effective CEO of United.
Last year United upgauged the redeye flight between Newark and Tel Aviv from a Boeing 777-200 (772) to a 777-300ER (77W). That flight went from 50 business seats and 217 coach seats to 60 business seats and 306 coach seats. Don’t be surprised if United also upgauges the 2nd flight from from 772 to a 77W.
United launched their San Francisco to Tel Aviv route on 3/30/16 with 3 weekly flights and the route was so successful that they increased it to daily flights in October 2016. United upgauged that route from a 787-8 to a 77W seasonally from May through October. That flight will go from 36 business seats and 183 coach seats to 60 business seats and 306 coach seats.
I’ve long said that the Baltimore/Washington region and Chicago stuck out as being very strong candidates for service to Tel Aviv on El Al or United.
El Al bizarrely tried to compete with United in San Francisco rather than open a new gateway. That effort failed and they pushed back the launch of San Francisco flights by at least 7 months.
United will fly a 777-200 at 10:30pm on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from IAD arriving into TLV at 4:30pm. They will fly back from TLV at 12:20am on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays and arrive into IAD at 5:50am.
If the flight is a success I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turn into daily service.
I said earlier this year that I’d be shocked if United didn’t launch new service to Tel Aviv this year. My only surprise here is that Chicago didn’t win out, but clearly United feels that the capital route will be more lucrative.
Either way, I don’t think Chicago will have to wait too long for their turn. El Al or United will surely launch service from that city within the next couple of years.