Israel’s El Al has landed in Australia for the first time, flying a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Perth to Tel Aviv. The aircraft was carrying 230 citizens who wished to return home before the borders were completely closed.
Does El Al fly to Australia?
El Al has been flirting with opening a new route from Israel to Australia for some time, but it seems, thanks to the current aviation crisis, its hand has been forced.
Previous ideas had the airline planning a direct route to Melbourne, Australia, which has a substantial ex-pat Israeli population. Flights via this plan were supposed to take place in April 2020 to see if it was viable. Before then, customers who wanted to travel between Australia and Israel had to travel through either Hong Kong or Bangkok.
But this new flight marks the first time that passengers have been able to fly direct between the two countries without passing through Asia.
What are the flight details?
Flight LY88 flew from Perth Australia to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport in 14 hours 12 minutes according to AeroTime. The trip between the two cities is roughly 11,077 kilometers (5,981 nautical miles), well within the range of the Boeing 787-9. In fact, Qantas uses the same aircraft from Perth to London.
Interestingly, this special flight was actually a commercial flight and not a citizen repatriation flight put on specifically by the government (although the airline was obviously providing that service). El Al put up tickets for sale on its website and sold out within 15 minutes, with 230 citizens booking a one-way trip back to the homeland on board the 787-9.
Israel worked with local embassies in Australia and New Zealand to arrange the passengers’ travel to Perth to catch this flight, including visa-waivers for those who did not have the right to pass through Australia itself.
The Foreign Ministry of Israel emphasized the “mutual responsibility and effort the State of Israel makes to help its sons and daughters return home at this time of the worldwide coronavirus crisis” to the newspaper Jerusalem Post.
In addition, El Al has very strict boarding requirements (such as an interview with every passenger before they are allowed on the plane and all luggage being vacuum tested to set off any devices) but it is unknown if these were performed at Perth airport for the one-off flight (or if Perth airport even has the capacity to do so).
However, this might be the last flight that El Al does in the region. The carrier has indicated that it is only doing a few rescue flights around the world and that this one to Australia was the last until the flight bans are lifted. The carrier is also flying several aircraft to South America to rescue stranded tourists.
What do you think about this news? Were you on this flight? Let us know in the comments.