El Al Israel is one of the world’s most unique carriers in that it offers an intercontinental network despite political constraints that prevent it from offering a broader array of destinations around the globe. It operates nonstop service to the United States, Canada, Africa, Europe, and Asia, utilizing an all-Boeing fleet, including 16 new 787-9s that started to join the company in August.
Air Traffic Potential in Israel
Israel as a nation boasts roughly 8.5 million residents, per 2016 Census data, and the average GDP per capita ranks #54 on the global list at approximately $35,200. The volume of air traffic to Israel – which is facilitated through Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International airport (TLV) – is relatively large for a population of its size, owing to large inbound tourism demand, growing business ties thanks to a highly literate population and the presence of many pharma and tech companies, and religious travel.
That said, while air traffic volumes to Israel are high, Tel Aviv is largely served by 6th-freedom carriers such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Turkish Airlines and Iberia, along with a plethora of low-cost carriers that have origins in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Levant region and Israel itself, owing largely to the 2012 Israel – European Union Open Skies agreement as well as Israel’s close proximity to Europe, which fits the low-cost carrier model.
This places El Al, the national flag carrier, in a very unusual spotlight as virtually all of its neighboring countries, with the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan, do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. This means that eastbound flights to Asia must avoid overflying territories of Arab countries and flights to North America and South Africa must avoid overflying North Africa, as many of these nations do not recognize Israel as a country and/or do not permit Israeli carriers to fly over their space.
In North America, El Al flies to New York JFK, Newark, Boston, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Miami (recently reinstated):
In Europe, El Al flies to most major cities
In the Asia and Africa regions, El Al flies to Johannesburg, Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Lanarca.
El Al’s all-Boeing fleet consists of 19 737-NGs (-800s and -900s), 7 Boeing 747-400s, 7 767-300ERs, 6 777-200ERs, and 2 787-9s. There will be a total of 16 787-9s to join the fleet which will replace its 747-400s and 767s.
El Al has an interesting fleet rotation strategy. The current cross-fleeting plan is as follows (all originating in Tel Aviv):
- Barcelona, Bangkok, Paris CDG, Newark, New York JFK, London Heathrow
- Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bangkok, Paris CDG, Moscow DME, Newark, Rome, Hong Kong, New York JFK, Los Angeles, London Heathrow, London Luton, Miami
- Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Mumbai, Boston, Paris CDG, Moscow DME, Rome, Johannesburg, Madrid, Marseilles, Milan, Bucharest, Beijing, Sofia, Toronto
- Newark, London Heathrow, Paris CDG
The 787-9 Dreamliner is El Al’s newest flagship plane, which features a revamped in-flight product.
There are several reviews of El Al’s 787-9 Dreamliner, including one written by One Mile at A Time and another by The Points Guy, who toured the El Al 787-9 Dreamliner over the summer.
El Al is currently unaligned between the major global alliances but does operate codeshare agreements with Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air China, Air Serbia, American Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, LATAM Brasil, Qantas, S7 Airlines, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal and Thai Airways.