It’s been an eventful week for Israeli aviation.
Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport (SDV) closed for good on Monday. Ynet has a good history of the airport in Hebrew (you can use Chrome’s Translate feature).
Earlier this year Eilat Airport (ETH) closed for good, replaced by Ramon Airport (ETM), located 20 minutes further away from the city.
Flights from Ben Gurion (TLV) to Ramon (ETM) are much less convenient for Tel Aviv residents than from Sde Dov to Eilat. That likely means trouble for Eilat’s tourism numbers, which were already trending downward. Personally I found Eilat to be a bit of a dump and once they’re going to Ben Gurion, more Israelis may opt to fly to Cyprus, Greece, and other locations abroad over Eilat.
Others are more likely to drive to Eilat, which will hurt Israel’s domestic carriers.
Arkia Airlines, which was based out of Sde Dov, announced that they would layoff nearly 40% of their employees, sell off several of their planes, and suspend the acquisition of their 2 A330-900neos that were to operate between NYC and Tel Aviv. That’s a pity.
Last month I enjoyed watching Arkia planes landing at Sde Dov from Tel Aviv’s excellent Port-Namal, but it’s the end of an era for plane spotting from there:
El Al is actively phasing out their 747 fleet and this video of their “Rishon LeZion” Queen of the Skies being torn to shreds is hard for an aviation geek to watch:
I’m just a bit obsessed with the Queen of the Skies.
In 2016 I took Rafi to San Francisco to let him experience flying on the upper deck of the glorious 747 before United retired it.
The final scheduled El Al 747 flight is El Al flight 4 on 9/9/19 from JFK to Tel Aviv, though that is subject to change.
El Al is also eliminating first class, with the final scheduled flight with first class being El Al flight 26 on 10/23/19 from Newark to Tel Aviv.
El Al hasn’t exactly kept their 747 fleet or their first class cabin up to date. El Al’s 787 business class will replace first class and it has mostly positive reviews, though there are some complaints about the width of the seat and the aisle.
As business class improves and as more fuel efficient airplanes come online, more and more airlines are getting rid of their first class cabins and their 747s.
It’s the end of an era and Haaretz has a nice sendoff article for El Al’s 747. The article is in Hebrew, but you can use Chrome’s translate feature.
Share your memories of the jumbo jet in the comments!