I wrote earlier today about the El Al flight 8 fiasco. That flight diverted to Gander and then pulled up to the gate in Athens just as Shabbos was about to start. Reportedly at least a couple dozen religious passengers are now stranded there, but Chabad of Athens pulled through with Shabbos food and lounge space for them. A commenter notes that Rabbi Hendel is in NYC for Shabbos and that his Rebbetzin handled everything, so kudos to her! That sure beats eating Borenstein KSML leftovers for Shabbos!
But what happens to the non-Shabbos observant passengers that were on the jumbo jet?
El Al is not allowed operate passenger service on Shabbos. Aish has more background information on that.
The 747 took off from Athens and flew to Tel Aviv on Shabbos without any passengers onboard. El Al 737 aircraft 4X-EKI has been operating flights under the LY airline code all week long:
You’ll notice the 2 most recent flights from Tel Aviv to Athens and back have the 6H airline code. That’s the code for Israir, a competing Israeli airline that is not bound by Shabbos restrictions. El Al tried to merge with Israir, but Israeli regulators blocked that merger earlier this year.
As I said before, the reason that El Al flew all the way to Athens instead of stopping in any Western Europe airport where there would not have been Shabbos issues was almost certainly purely financial. It’s far cheaper to send ferry flights from Tel Aviv to Athens than Tel Aviv to London, Paris, or Zurich. I think that will wind up being penny wise, pound foolish, but that remains to be seen. So much for their “Hachi babayit ba’olam” slogan that roughly means “the most at home in the world.” If that’s how you’re treated at home, it might be time to find a new home 😉
El Al has Israir operating the El Al 737 from Tel Aviv to Athens to pickup passengers tonight that are not Shabbos observant. I’m not sure what the logistics of that are or who the pilots work for, but I laugh at thinking about an airline like United having American operate one of their airplanes. Those passengers will fly back to Tel Aviv tonight on the El Al plane operated as Israir flight 5648.
I’m surprised that one 737 will be able to handle all of the non-religious passengers that were on the jumbo jet. It remains to be seen how the religious passengers will get back to Tel Aviv.