How come Virgin Atlantic has never flown to Israel?

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  • MarkivJ

    So, another random post of mine…. 😉

    I’m sat here in Tel Aviv getting ready for a business meeting. I flew BA’s 772 from LHR – TLV which was packed like sardines. I fly to Israel 3-4 times a year (mostly BA), and I’ve never flown on a BA flight that’s had less than 90% occupancy. This 772 was the 4 class version, even F was full!

    So that got me thinking – Virgin Atlantic has flown to all kinds of destinations, some even loss making. How is it that they have never considered Tel Aviv? It seems like they’ll get decent load factors and yields, plus I can see several Delta/Skyteam customers who don’t get the DL JFK-TLV at a good rate flying VS instead.

    Yes, I’m aware of the landing slot scarcity in LHR, etc….but as I mentioned, VS has flown to other destinations, so I find TLV not being/having been on their network surprising!


    I imagine the business case for the route is not as attractive as for others.


    Oh agree, which is what I find it surprising! If anything, Israel seems to attract more premium travellers than the casual (Economy) ones, especially with more and more startups on the rise. I would think a business case for Israel would be way easier to justify than to some other destinations. During peak, I believe BA and LH in the past have rostered their 747s as well!


    It’s not really a match with their longhaul strategy and I think it’s as simple as that. I can’t think offhand of any similar range destinations that they fly to except DXB which is 50% further than TLV.

    Also, TLV is about the second most unpopular route with cabin crew. This may be part of the reason for VS not flying there, although I doubt it.


    I know (a long time ago) that the yields for that route were low, however that may have changed over the years.




    My suspicion from talking to fellow passengers is a significant number of the) premium passengers are transiting London to the States. That is why BA has the very early / late flights (and also why the 3x a day A321 ultimately wasn’t satisfactory as the T1-T5 transit was a friction point for passengers and luggage. To win over the traffic Virgin would likely need to do something similar; a single flight might not work for the transmitting people and they won’t fill up their premium space.


    From European cities flights to TLV are considered low-yield route. BA operates B777s because it seeks transit passengers coming in from N America … hence the Club World.

    Compare that to the mainland European carriers (examples AF/KL/LH/LX/OS) serving TLV with narrow-bodied aircraft with Euro biz class.

    Why would VS serve the route ? DL holds the VS purse strings and DL itself already operates non-stop JFK-TLV.


    I do agree with you. although I don’t believe VS is the airline for this. As a Jew and frequent traveller between London and TLV, at least once a month, I see it different.
    BA offers 3 daily flights, ELAL offers 3 from Heathrow and 2 from Luton DAILY, EasyJet offer 2 from Luton and 1 from Gatwick, and Wizzair offer almost every day. That is alot of flights and alot of competition.
    On the other hand, Manchester has the second largest Jewish population in the UK, and Jet2 used to fly Manchester direct to Israel, EasyJet now operate direct between MAN and TLV on Monday and Thursday ONLY. Monarch used to operate direct flight on Tuesday and Wednesday and Sunday. ALL these flights were full to capacity on every flight. Its a shame to see since Monarch went bust that EasyJet hasn’t stepped in to replace them and make it a daily flight. Or perhaps ELAL would start considering a direct flight to Manchester.
    However I doubt VS is the airline for flights to Israel. Israel is high competitor for Premuim Cabins too. Club World which I frequent with, and ELAL Business is 90% Full on every flight. If only….


    NB.Politically incorrect warning for snowflakes!
    Maybe its because they don’t like Palestinian couscous – see BBC news today!
    Only Palestinian land!


    ALL these flights were full to capacity on every flight. Its a shame to see since Monarch went bust that EasyJet hasn’t stepped in to replace them

    Full to capacity doesn’t always mean profitable.

    A lot of Monarch’s flights were full to capacity, and it didn’t stop them going bust.

    Perhaps the reality is there isn’t a profitable market outside of London. I know BA has continually tinkered with timings, terminals and equipment to find the right solution.


    El Al is usually twice daily from Heathrow .. Fridays & Saturdays vary during the year according to time of Shabbat.



    I tend to agree with you but I think it is worth pointing out that LH used to have 747 and A340’s on the route, KLM uses 777 in the summer, Iberia uses A330,s on some of it’s flights to TLV and LX still use A330’s on the route. AF uses narrow bodies A320’s.

    I think that Virgin got,their fingers burnt when they used to fly to Athens using narrow bodied aircraft as they did not stay on the route that long and now the LCC’s have got a huge presence at TLV and in fact are housed together in the older T1 which has been refurbished.

    I do not think that VS would want to have to compete with them as well,as BA and EL AL although their J class is better than the other 2 but I travel to TLV monthly and based on price EZY is my first choice, their flights are also a good times.

    Maybe someone should as VS the question then we would know and not need to speculate although between us I think we have the answer.

    An interesting question though.


    I take your point, Jonathan.

    Of course larger aircraft have been used from time to time … but a quick check of AF/KL and LH’s summer schedules continue to show the same aircraft types. But it appears the number of flights has increased.

    I notice that in the peak summer BA will be operating as many as three flights a day. Two of these will be B777s with an A321 operates the third service.


    My husband and I are heading to Israel for the summer holidays and we are flying with Turkish through Istanbul, I have never flown them to TLV before but their timings and prices from Singapore are very good.

    The last time I was there I flew with EZY from LGW and have to say the service was perfect for a 4.5 hour flight, I have also flown BA and ELAL there over the years so interested to see how Turkish performs, the upside for us is 3 days in Istanbul which I am really looking forward to

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