El Al Israel Airlines is reviving plans to fly to Ireland, Japan, and Australia. The long-haul destinations were on the agenda back in 2019, but COVID-19 saw any new planned route launches dropped. With traveler numbers now climbing and El Al enjoying some uplift, the airline is returning to 2019 and dusting off those route plans.
El Al CEO confirms new long-haul routes are on the horizon
Speaking at a Google Tourism Forum in Tel Aviv this week, El Al Chief Executive Officer Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia confirmed that the airline intended to commence services on all three routes. The routes would see El Al enjoy sole operator status on the Israel –Israel , Israel –Japan, and Israel –Australia country pairs.
For the two Indo-Pacific routes, at least, there remains a caveat. Flights to Melbourne and Tokyo rest on Saudi Arabia granting El Al permission to fly through its airspace. Israel has made significant progress recently establishing bilateral ties with many of its neighbors but But for El Al to make the flagged Melbourne and Tokyo routes viable, they need access to that country’s airspace.
“The Abraham Accords have opened up various exciting possibilities, EL AL is analyzing the potential of new routes to Tokyo, Dublin, and Melbourne,“the El Al CEO posted on LinkedIn.”Post-COVID challenges are still here, but there are various exciting opportunities ahead. “
Two of the routes are contingent on El Al gaining access to Saudi airspace
Even the shortest new route El Al is eyeing –the Tel Aviv (TLV) –Dubland (DUB) sector clocks in at a respectable 2,510 miles (4,039 kilometers). Those flights needing access to the Saudi airspace are considerably longer. Tokyo is 5,730 miles. (9,221 kilometers) distant from Tel Aviv –El Al hasn’t said whether it plans to fly into Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT), but the difference distance-wise isn’t much.
The route that will really push El Al’s planes is the prospective service to Melbourne (MEL), 8,535 miles (13,736 kilometers) away from Tel Aviv. That route is slightly longer than Qantas’ Perth (PER) –Rome (ROM) flights which clocks in at 8,288 miles (13,338 kilometers) but shorter than the Australian airline’s Perth –London Heathrow (LHR) service, which covers 9,009 miles (14,498 kilometers).
El Al, which is dusting off its Boeing 777-200ER jets to fly some international long-haul services, will likely use its flagship Boeing 787 aircraft on these three routes. El Al has 15 of the Dreamliners, a mix of -8s and- 9s. As the Qantas Dreamliner service between PER and LHR proves, if you get the right flight path, these planes can cover a lot of distance.
A long overdue direct airlink
El Al’s Dreamliners made a rare appearance in Melbourne in 2020 to operate a couple of repatriation flights after COVID-19 shut down most commercial flights in and out of both countries. Even with large Jewish diasporas living in Sydney and Melbourne and a sizeable contingent of Australians residing in Israel, getting between the two countries has always been a big effort involving stopovers and connections.
“The opportunities for enhancing business ties between the two countries would be incredible, while the Jewish State would become infinitely more accessible for members of our community and for travelers from the wider community,“Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb told The Australian Jewish News.”If the proposal does come to fruition… communal enthusiasm for the flights, like El Al’s planes, will really take off. “