El Al will launch a nonstop service between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport in March 2020.
Flights will run Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday on a 282-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner with three classes.
It is the first nonstop service from O’Hare to Tel Aviv in 20 years, and will be the only nonstop service from the central US region to Israel, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The airport operator said the launch was part of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s diplomatic efforts to increase trade and collaboration with Israel, with officials expecting the service to bring $70m annually to the Chicago region.
“New nonstop services to Tel Aviv and other key international destinations at O’Hare are fuelling Chicago’s leading connectivity to the world,” said Jamie Rhee, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation.
“Each new service fuels more business, tourism and travel opportunities for Chicago and throughout the world while creating economic opportunity for the people right here at home.”
Eight new international routes to Chicago have so far been announced for 2019, including Norwegian flights from Barcelona.
O’Hare is set to begin a decade-long, $8.5bn modernisation and expansion project next year. The airport saw 903,747 arriving and departing flights last year, more than any airport in the US, according to the US Department of Transportation.
On the new Israel route, El Al’s Vice President for Commercial and Industry Affairs Michael Strassburger commented: “We are pleased to announce nonstop flights between Israel and Chicago. The City of Chicago is one of the most important academic, cultural, industrial and business centres in the United States and is an especially attractive destination for tourism and business.”
Facing competition from low-cost carriers on European routes, El Al is looking to increase its connections to business hubs, with a Tel Aviv-San Francisco route launching in May. It will also begin flights to Las Vegas and Manchester this year.