El Al Operates Final Transatlantic Boeing 747 Flight

After 48 years and millions of miles flown, El Al flight number LY008 touched down in Tel Aviv (TLV) at17:38, local time today, ending all of El Al’s Boeing 747 transatlantic flights.

Boeing 747-400 registration 4X-ELA was delivered to El Al on 27-04-94. After spending its entire life with the Israeli national flag carrier, it will now be retired on arrival from New York’s JFK.

El Al last transatlantic 747
Last Transatlantic El Al 747 arrives in Tel Aviv. Photo: Dmitry Terekhov via Flickr

Later today, a second El Al 747-400, flight number LY084 will land at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, arriving from Bangkok, Thailand. This aircraft will also be retired.

El Al 747 registration number 4X-ELD was delivered to the carrier in 1999 and despite a short spell being leased out to TAT Nigeria during 2009/10 has spent its entire life with El Al.

The last El Al 747 will retire in October

With the two 747s being retired today, this leaves just 4X-ELC in service until it retires in October, according to Air Transport World.

Today’s arrival from New York is the one that will touch most Israeli hearts as it had been flying the TLV-JFK route for 46 years, having replaced the Boeing 707 on the route.

El Al 747
El Al 747s having been flying to New York for 46 years. Photo: Mark Harkin via Wikimedia Commons

El Al was one of the very first airlines to order the 747, a purchase considered risky at the time but which has now paid for itself multiple times over. All good things must, however, come to an end.

El Al’s aging “Queen of the Skies” will be retired to make way for the younger twin-engine, fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

El Al ordered 16 Dreamliners for its all-Boeing fleet

The retirement of El Al’s 747 fleet is all part of a modernization plan that was conceived before the first of 16 787 Dreamliners started arriving in 2017. In a press release announcing the purchase of the 787 Dreamliners, El Al President and CEO David Maimon said,

“I am proud to announce that following a year and a half of major preparations by all of us at EL AL in anticipation of the new Dreamliner’s arrival, EL AL is embarking on a new era. The expected arrival of the new 787 aircraft will be the peak of EL AL`s renewal momentum, creating a revolution in customer experience across all flight interfaces.”

El Al 787 Dreamliner
Boeing 787 Dreamliners will replace El Al’s 747s. Photo: Adam Moreira via Wikipedia

He continued, saying,

“We continue to implement EL AL`s vision – to lead the aviation market in Israel and to be the first choice airline for all customers traveling to and from Israel while providing quality and uncompromising service for the benefit of our customers.

“With these aircraft, EL AL is raising the bar in terms of service, flight comfort, as well as the upgraded product and flight experience it delivers its customers.”

“We set the bar high in terms of service and product excellence, in order to better perform in the competitive arena and maintain our position as the first choice airline for all customers traveling to and from Israel.

“I am convinced that this significant acquisition program is a great opportunity to meet our customers` expectations and continue EL AL’s renewal momentum, offer our customers maximum comfort, technological innovation, advanced aircraft, and high-quality service”, Maimon summarized.

The fuel saving on the JFK-TLV route will be quite significant

When you look at the age of El Al’s 747s and the money needed to keep them in the air it’s no surprise that El Al and other airlines operating the 747 are replacing them with twin-engine jets.

retiring El Al 747
Dreamliners will use 47% less fuel than 747s. Photo: ERIC SALARD via Wikimedia Commons

According to the now-retired former Boeing vice chairman Raymond Conner, when flying between Tel Aviv and New York, the Dreamliner will use 47% less fuel than the 747.

I for one will be sad to see the 747 go after having spent most of my life flying on it, yet like they say “progress waits for no man”, and we all must move on.