Last Week Was A Very Good Week For Israeli Airlines

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Israeli airlines had a whole lot of winning last week.

El Al, which has been besieged by pilot issues for years, finally came to an agreement with their pilot’s union at the beginning of the week, good through the end of 2025.

That’s an issue that was weighing heavily on El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia when I met her at El Al headquarters while I was in Israel a couple weeks ago. Pilot actions were causing flight delays and cancellations and blocking the ability to bring the airline’s Boeing 777s back into service.

With the new agreement the airline should see better operations and be able to add more long-haul destinations.

Shlomi Am Shalom, Head of Communications and Government Relations at El Al, tells me that the airline hopes to have 2 of the 777s back in the sky this year and 2 more back online next year. Currently they still have their old seating configuration, but they hope to have them retrofitted with new business class seats by the 1st quarter of 2023. With a wider fuselage than the 787, the 777 should offer superior business class seat and aisle space.

And then on Thursday, Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Israeli airlines to overfly their airspace.

That is a real game changer. It will shave several hours off flights to the east.

El Al will be able to fly on routes to India on narrowbody 737s that currently eat up valuable widebody flight time. While it’s always nice to fly on a widebody plane like El Al’s 787 Dreamliner, if you can turn an 8 hour flight into 5 hour flight, switching to a 737 is a no-brainer. That frees up a widebody airframe to operate a new route that El Al hopes to launch, such as Melbourne or Tokyo.

Thanks to the agreement with Saudi Arabia, a flight to Melbourne goes from an 18 hour ultra-long haul that pushes the 787 to its limits into a 15 hour flight that the plane is more than capable of handling.

And with 777s now in play, El Al can start to get very creative on optimizing their fleet and launching new routes.

El Al won’t be the only airline to benefit from the new airspace.

Israeli low-cost carrier Arkia is looking into flying to destinations like Sri Lanka and Thailand that weren’t previously tenable with its narrowbody fleet. The airline will fly to Goa, India starting in November, a route that will be hours shorter thanks to the new overfly rights. I still think it’s a pity that their widebody A330-900neo order never materialized, though I’m happy I got the chance to be taken to Airbus Headquarters when that order was still on the books.

Hopefully the shorter travel time will also translate into lower airfare as well.

Israeli airlines are hoping that the new rules go into effect this week. The network planners at Arkia, El Al, and Israir must be having a field day with all the possibilities!

What new routes do you hope to see operate to Tel Aviv?

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41 Comments On "Last Week Was A Very Good Week For Israeli Airlines"

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TLV – SIN would be great. SQ and / or LY


nobody’s starting a route to Sri Lanka any time soon…


Would it make it shorter from ny to tel Aviv


yea, it will cut it down from 12 hours down to about 10. They will be able to fly over the US over Asia and right into Tel Aviv


Thanks! And what about the return flight, would it also be shorter?


sure! Down to Africa, around the South Pole, up through Argentina and then over the gulf of mexico.


He was joking. As Saudi Arabia is not between NY and TLV flight path.


I think he was serious! If you go the long way around the world it does


Dan, we want to hear more of your meeting at the El Al headquarters

Pillow Fight



I’m looking for a trip report on your flight from israel back to the USA…


anything to make El Al more affordable, would love to have reasons to fly with them again…..

I just flew with them a few days ago when airfrance rebooked us because of a missed connection. (Airfrance was hilarious; in Y we got Borenstein First/business boxes which were decent, but of course 4 hours after a fleishik dinner the two of us got a Milchik breakfast box and a Fleishik! Snack box)

I was pleasantly surprised with El AL. The hard product was really good for a short haul from Paris. The manual Tinting windows were great and the pop-out cupholders were nice little bonuses. The service was very chilled and pleasant. The only thing that was annoying was the aggressive sales pitch on the duty free catalogue.

I asked a stewardess about standing in my seat to daven she said of course. I did. 20 minutes later a chiloni women poked me in the shoulder and woke me to go and join the minyan in the galley.

Everyone was going overboard to get along: the chassidish guy, the stewardesses, everyone. If I were in charge I wouldn’t have schlepped out the minyan when we were blocking the galley but….

The flight had all the benefits of heimishness without the usual drawbacks.


It was on the 15th of July — not the 14th — that Saudi Arabia agreed that it would open its airspace to Israeli carriers too.

If Biden didn’t meet with the sleazy Saudi royals on Friday, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia would not have agreed with opening up the airspace to Israel and would have used his father as the excuse as before.


Maybe if elal moved their call center now to KSA someone would answer the phone.


What new routes do you hope to see operate to Tel Aviv?
So sad that they are stopping. Will make trips to Israel less convenient, and I fear, more costly. Always preferred ElAl.



Would love to see a TLV-PHL route, that should get the folks at AA scrambling to up their game as well. With the huge frum population explosion in Ocean County NJ, it would be a game changer for all.



tlv flyer

i am a tlv-lax ff and since there is only one flight per day many times i find it sold out and must take a connection.
how about two flights a day!! the traffic between the two cities can easily fill it everytime i am in tombradley hear tons of hebrew. besides maybe they can axe off some of united traffic to sfo being that their prices are sky-high


@Dan, I found a way to get cheap tickets from Elal. I don’t want to post here. You can contact me by email


Hey, let us know if Dan gets back to you. BTW what are you afraid of?


Was working last week, it dead already


Why not here, “Abraham”?


@Abraham – Did you win the $8k ElAl gift certificate yesterday? 🙂


It would be a better week if El Al didn’t cancel its Toronto to TLV routes.