El Al has released more details regarding its first nonstop flights between Israel and Australia, with the trial set to take place in April and May 2020.
As reported by Business Traveller earlier this month, the carrier plans to operate the flights “as part of a commercial trial for regular operations between Tel Aviv and Melbourne, to be decided upon in the coming months”.
The schedules for the route have now been loaded into El Al’s online reservation systems, with flight LY087 departing Tel Aviv on April 2, April 23 and May 14, and the return leg LY088 leaving Melbourne on April 4, April 25 and May 16.
The service will depart Tel Aviv late morning, arriving into Melbourne at roughly the same time a day later, and will return from the Australian city late evening, landing back into Tel Aviv the following morning.
The flights will be operate by a three-class B787 Dreamliner configured with economy, premium economy and business class seats.
When Business Traveller checked this morning (December 12), there were still tickets available in all classes for the first service in early April, although premium economy and business class tickets were scarce. We were quoted a fare of $1,659 for return economy tickets on the April 2 and April 4 dates.
According to El Al, “The nonstop flights can be combined with connection flights to EL AL flights to Bangkok and/or Hong Kong (subject to changes in the fare) as well as to various destinations in Australia and New Zealand”.
Commenting on the news El Al’s vice president commercial and industry affairs, Michael Strassburger, said:
“We at El Al are excited about offering these nonstop flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Australia, the first time ever in the history of the State of Israel.”
“Over the years, El Al has gained experience and a reputation for its operations of ultra long-haul flights. In the 60s, EL AL set a record, when it operated the longest route in the world, from New York to Israel, with no stopovers, on a Boeing 707 aircraft. In 2006, El Al began operating a scheduled nonstop flight to Los Angeles on its Boeing 777 aircraft, in 15 hours and 30 minutes, making it one of the five longest routes in the world at that time.”
“Today, as we continue to renew our fleet with Dreamliner aircraft, we are trialing additional unprecedented alternatives for expanding our route network and further connecting Israel with the Diaspora. In this framework, we are evaluating nonstop operations to Melbourne, Australia, with no stopovers. Such a route will substantially shorten the trip to Australia and will deepen the touristic, business and political ties between the two countries beyond recognition.”
“Operating this route will be subject to approval of governmental parties, including civil aviation authorities; the airline will decide on regular operations in the coming months. While examining commercial feasibility, the airline is preparing to operate three roundtrip flights during April and May 2020, before and after Passover and Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day).
“Flight duration on the Melbourne-bound flight is expected to be 16 hours and 15 minutes, while the return flight, from Melbourne to Ben Gurion Airport, is expected to take 17 hours and 45 minutes, the longest flight, without stopovers, in the history of Israel’s aviation industry.”
El Al currently has 12 B787-9s in service, with four B787-8s due to be delivered between now and the first quarter of 2020.
The Dreamliners are gradually replacing older aircraft in the El Al fleet, including the carrier’s B747 jumbos, the last of which made its final trip to New York in September after 48 years of B747 service on the route.
The Dreamliner aircraft feature a full-flat Recaro seat in business class, as well as a premium economy cabin with 38 inches of legroom.
In an interview with Business Traveller earlier this year, El Al’s CEO Gonen Usishkin said that the premium economy seat had proved so popular that the carrier was considering adding an extra row of the seats to its Dreamliner aircraft.
“Premium is the new kid in town,” Usishkin said. “I feel that trend will continue for the foreseeable future with only minor tweaks.”
The airline has also been extending its route network, with new services to Chicago, Dublin and Dusseldorf.
El Al also relaunched flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv earlier this year, as well as new routes to Las Vegas and San Francisco.