El Al ready to launch non-stop flights to Melbourne

The Israeli flag-carrier has refloated plans to create the first direct air link between Tel Aviv and Australia.

By Staff Writers, July 29 2022
El Al ready to launch non-stop flights to Melbourne

Israeli airline El Al says it plans to launch scheduled flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne in the coming months, a route made possible following a recent opening of Saudi air space.

Speaking at the Google Tourism Conference in Tel Aviv this week, El Al Airlines boss Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia said the new air space access means it could fly its Boeing 787 Dreamliners on the 15-hour route from its hub at Ben Gurion International Airport to Melbourne, marking its first regular foray into Australia.

El Al has been seen in Australian skies before, with three repatriation flights to Melbourne in the early days of the pandemic to help its Jewish diaspora return home. These flights also served as a trial as to ongoing viability of a direct route between the two cities.

Originally announced in 2019, El Al's ambitions to launch its new route to Melbourne were temporarily scuppered by the Covid-19 outbreak.

El Al's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will pioneer the non-stop route between Tel Aviv and Melbourne.
El Al's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will pioneer the non-stop route between Tel Aviv and Melbourne.

Testing the waters

El Al’s regional direct for Asia, Oceania and South Africa, Yoav Weiss, spoke to Executive Traveller in 2019 about what was, at the time, only a trial of the Tel Aviv-Melbourne route.

“The trial consists of two major elements,” Weiss said. “The first is the commercial one, whether there will be demand and whether people would be willing to pay a premium for flying non-stop.”

“The Australian market is a very good market for Israel, there is a very big Jewish and Israeli community in both Sydney and Melbourne.”

“We have a lot of business coming from Australia, flying with Qantas via Bangkok or Hong Kong, and also via Johannesburg. But it wasn’t until we received our brand new Boeing 787 that we could consider a non-stop operation to make it all the way ‘down under’. This idea was going around for a while, and we decided to give it a try.”

El Al's non-stop test flights to Melbourne will span an average of 17 hours.
El Al's non-stop test flights to Melbourne will span an average of 17 hours.

This opens up the second role of these three special flights, “an operational trial, to see if planning of the flying routes is possible to execute in real time, what will be the fuel consumption, what will be the load consumption and so on,” Weiss explains.

“So in that respect, the operational trial is maybe the most important part of this trial, and alongside with the commercial part these three flights should give us a good picture of that aspect.”

Weiss says that while most of El Al’s Melbourne-based passengers on the three test flights conducted in 2020 ended their journey at Tel Aviv, an on-going scheduled service would realise the city’s role as a connecting hub to the rest of Europe.

“El Al offers many, many destinations in Europe, most of them on a double daily basis, and Ben Gurion Airport has a very smooth connecting process.”

Inside El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

London-based design firm PriestmanGoode helped shape El Al's Dreamliners with new seats and cabins, along with an updated livery to better reflect the airline's flag-carrier status.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The 'Business First' cabin features 32 seats with direct aisle access, and follows a staggered 1-2-1 layout which is similar to that of United Airlines' latest Polaris product.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

Each seat is 21" wide, and combines a clear sense of well-appointed personal space with handy shelves and stowage nooks.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The seats transform into a 78" fully-flat bed, with plenty of movies and TV shows piped through to the 16" HD video screen.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

The business class cabin itself is finished in rich tones of champagne, chocolate and wood.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class.

Behind this are 28 premium economy seats – a first for El Al – in a 2-3-2 arrangement of 38" pitch. The seats themselves are 19.4" wide, with 13" screens and a personal storage recess on the back of each seat.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner premium economy class.

The 222 standard economy seats (30-31" pitch, 17" width) include 12" screens plus AC and USB charging sockets.

El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner economy class.
El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner economy class.

While El Al doesn't belong to any of the major three airline alliances, its position as a Qantas partner means that El Al flights can be booked using Qantas Points; El Al flights booked under a QF codeshare will earn a full serve of Qantas Points and status credits.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

Ahhh - the 'price premium' in all classes? Easily explained ..

Think about the logistics this way: QF runs PER-LHR-PER non-stop, with a B787-9 seating 236 passengers. PER is almost 5 hours closer to London compared to SYD or MEL.

El Al is looking to fly TLV-MEL-TLV with a B787-9 .. but with a seating capacity of 282 passengers, Almost 50 extra passengers and their luggage - or approximately 33% more passenger load weight. 

Don't be fooled - you will not be paying a premium for some extraordinary level of extra exemplary service. You'll be paying a premium to cover the 50 blocked (empty) seats that cannot be sold, due to the non-stop requirement of the route.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 349

Hopefully we can burn some of our Qantas points on ElAl  Been there , done that as far fewer points and taxes minimal, charged in GBP. ElAl are actually very good, and Ben Gurion King David Lounge is quite reasonable, or if you have Priority Pass visit one of the Dan Lounges B or C gates.  And the few times I've done ElAL Business, you are ushered away from the mobs waiting for security /interviews prior to checking in.  Straight to the Business checkin for Elal located beging the main checkin area.  And Ben Gurion has polite, efficient, freindly security.  I see the comments about TSA thugs - I remeber flying LGA-BOS then back same day - the boston thugs were trialling Israeli style interviews, but failed MISERABLY and were jusr plain rude.  When I said I didn't like Boston and wanted to go back to NYC early, since I'd changed my flight after spending half a day in repugnant Anglophilic or anglo-wannabee Boston, they called over a supervisor for further interrogation.  Israelis don't interrogate, they are civil and friendly, whilst TSA thigs (at Logan at least) are rude power trippers.  They should try NYC or SFO or LAX  style security (and please exempt Newark, which is NOT NYC,   where the arrivals thugs are just as bad if you arrive from Canada!!!)

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 660

This is great but be prepared for the infamous El Al interrogation pre boarding-that alone would make me choose a one stop option I think over this direct service. It's not like El Al ever win any awards so not missing out on much. But still for the elderly and business community this is still a great option.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 472

For the elderly? Why? 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 451

Not a bad option for those of us who don't need the hassles of a Bangkok or Hong Kong Transit to Israel like it is currently.The only other option currently than QANTAS AND ELAL takes quite a long way around such as Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa via Singapore and Frankfurt to Tel Aviv Or Qantas/Air France options via Singapore and Paris.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 349

Why not Swiss/Singapore  Transit much nicer at Zurich, and you can spend the day in Zurich downtown and take the late  night LX flight (or use Elal as a LX codeshare) ?  Swapped years ago from Lufti to Swiss when  Lufti got rid of wide bodies to/from TLV, whilst Swiss use A330/777 preCOVID, who knows now since it is A321 mostly due to pax numbers, but you would expect this to improve .  And Cathay started HKG-TLV flights but that was all ruined by COVID and China COVID policy at HKG   Other options precovid I used were QF to PER, QR to DOH then AMM in First, then RJ to TLV for the 50 minute hop   or u can book with United also SQ to SIN, then Turkish to IST-TLV  

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

Yes, that's a nice option too. Zurich is a great place to transit or spend a day or two. However, from Australia it will inevitably be a one stop service just to get there (meaning Emirates or Qatar, alternatively, THAI or SQ via Bangkok/Singapore respectively).

For those who need to visit Tel Aviv/Israel and want to minimise flying times, they'll probably choose CX via Hong Kong (once restrictions are eased and all their flights are operational again) or they could consider a transit in Bangkok or Phuket, flying on El Al from any of the latter two. However, this will most likely not be a single ticket, except maybe for the transit in Bangkok, assuming a codeshare El Al flight number of QF to BKK then El Al for the onward journey to Israel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 19

There's always Korean via SEL too with a free night in a hotel paid for by the airline if you want to break up your trip with a mini-stopover. 

I just hope Aussies support the non-stop service though. El-Al is a new airline at our airports, the flights are a great way to get to Israel quickly AND it means Israel becomes a new stopover option on the way to primary, secondary and tertiary gateways to Europe. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

That is provided El Al no longer does intense, time consuming passenger screenings prior to check-in like they used to. I observed this process going on, years ago now, at Don Muang airport in Bangkok and it looked like a huge hassle. If El Al applies this policy to every one of it's flights, then a lot of travellers will be turned off and fly with airlines that offer a more seemless travel experience.

As for getting to secondary cities in Europe (or tertiary as you have referred to some of them), most can be reached from Dubai on Emirates already.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 19

The screening isn't too bad. It's usually done in downtime while passengers are waiting at the gate. 

The prime motivation for an airline is to get the plane out on time. Otherwise, there are substantial cost and other consequences downstream. The intention is to get any security measures completed way before departure and without undue inconvenience. No one will choose to fly with an airline that is too onerous with its operations. 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 534

Well, I observed El Al's screening measures before check-in at Bangkok's Don Muang airport on several occasions and let me tell you, it was very onerous and time consuming. For some passengers, it was also quite humiliating. A lot of people refused to fly on El Al for this reason. Those who needed to travel to Israel would thus choose to fly with Royal Jordanian or a European carrier instead.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 349

Leaving Elal from Greece no massive security screening,   leaving Elal from IL to IT  in Business on a 767 no screening at all   Years ago Lufthansa had Israeli screening at Munich and Frankfurt gates  when they did wide bodies to IL, fairly low key   Swiss do no  overt screeining at E Gates, but as anyone who frequently travels into/outoff Israel already know, the Israeli authorities already know everything about you anyways  I've had arrivals at Ben Gurion with different passports etc and they wil lstill tell you how many times youve entered Israel previously  etc .... Honestly i wouldn't fret becasue Israeli security is neither rude nor useless, we would all like to fly on a safe flight, and when you compare some TSA agents in the US (only at certain airports like Boston Logan, certainly not at  IAD, IAH, DEN, LAX or SFO or LGA or JFK or even dismal EWR), they win hands down in blatant rudeness and un-necessary distress...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

@cbourl - not to offend your view, but I have flown El Al on a couple of occasions and found them to be a reasonable carrier. Nothing extraordinary, but solid. So, we are in agreement on that.

However, let's not effuse that El Al is all 'warm and fuzzy' - history dictates otherwise. Whilst the horrors of the Munich Olympic disaster predicated a lot of the justifiably 'iron clad security' mentality, it seems that the period from the 1970's (multiple hijackings throughout Europe in particular, during the 1970's) through to the events of 9/11 in the USA re-enforced El Al's justification. 

It is quite confronting to see an entirely separate and specific dedicated EL-Al security line, divided by gender, manned by soldiers with AK47's in first world airports such as Singapore and particularly JFK. And yet, that was the truth for many, many years up to around 2005-6.

El Al has been a QF partner for an eternity of years also. It is relatively well-known within the industry that El Al has previously applied to fly into Australia on numerous occasions, but has demanded their own security levels being observed and maintained in Australia, At that time, El Al had offered to pay for and maintain it's (own), armed locally based security force. The idea of an armed security force in an Australian airport (prior to 9/11) simply did NOT fly with the Australian Government and was automatically politely declined.

After 9/11, security began being taken as a serious issue globally in most worldwide airports - and the adoption of stricter, general rules allowed El AL to loosen their 'grip' on their model - which in time, saw public perception change slowly to where it is now. 

The most interesting aspect of the 'new' El Al is whether they will finally adapt to flying a comprehensive network on the Sabbath. And also add-in the long-promised route to Australia. I suspect that any application for them to fly here would be generally accepted, with El-AL acceptance of Australia's own (relatively safe in terms of world comparison) airport security services. But as we know, the area around Israel and its neighbours can be volatile at unexpected times. I am always somewhat wary about dropping my guard.

Spy
Spy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 16

Latest news is that while Saudi Arabia granted permission for El Al to fly over their airspace, Oman (whose airpsace a direcr route to Melbourne would also traverse) unexpectedly refused.  Sadly, I think that 's the end of that story for now.


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