Israel’s El Al Airlines will return its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to service to meet burgeoning summer demand. The airline made the announcement on its social media channels over the weekend. El Al parked its widebody Boeings at the start of the pandemic. Since then, they’ve declined to return the big jets to service, preferring the smaller and more fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. But strong passenger demand over the summer has forced El Al to reconsider that position.
“The 777 planes are back in the air! In light of the great demand for flights during the summer and holidays, we are returning some of the 777 aircraft to the fleet,” says El Al. “The planes will initially increase the flight schedule to Bangkok, Phuket, Dubai, Athens and other popular destinations this season.”
According to aircraft database planespotters.net, El Al has one Boeing 777-200ER fly-ready and five parked. The prepared plane is 4X-ECD Ramat Gan Ramat Gan. That plane has done some recent flying, including operating cargo-only services. El Al did not specify whether it was returning all six Boeing 777s to service to just some of them. But Reuters does report the airline saying all are ready to fly, with their checks and maintenance up to date.
El Al Boeing 777 flight resumptions will continue throughout August
The first El Al Boeing 777 passenger flight took place on the weekend. After a series of warm-up flights around Israel, 4X-ECD pushed back for Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) on Sunday, operating flight LY325. At the time of publication, the jet is in the air operating the return service home. Over August, El Al says it will restore more Boeing 777s to service and deploy them onto those in-demand routes.
El Al scrapped the last of its iconic Boeing 747-400s before the pandemic, electing to hitch its fortunes to the Boeing 777s and 787s. The airline has 15 Boeing 787s – a combination of -8s and -9s. El Al flew 1.6 million passengers in the first six months of 2022 using a mix of Dreamliners and Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Rebooting pains for El Al Airlines
El Al is enjoying a strong recovery in 2022 but experiencing many of the same post-pandemic pains as other airlines. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) is experiencing an acute staff shortage causing it to operate below its normal capacity. That’s seeing long queues, flight delays, and lots of missing baggage. While that’s causing a ruckus locally, it’s not stopping Israelis from booking flights. It’s a common story and one that’s having spillover effects into allied industries.
“We are having trouble recruiting employees, there are not many applications and for those we receive, people have high expectations, when they do not necessarily have experience,” one Israeli tourism operator told local media recently.
Like other airlines experiencing rebooting pains, El Al is scrambling to plug the holes in its operations, recruit and train more staff, and generally offer a more consistent and reliable service. Getting the Boeing 777s back in the air is one step in that process.
“The return of the 777 aircraft is really good news, and it will allow us to offer our customers additional flights to various destinations in comfort and safety,” added an El Al spokesperson.