Since operating its inaugural flights from Geneva to Tel Aviv in September 1948, Israeli flag carrier El Al has flown various aircraft types. While it presently has a rather uniform fleet featuring just three aircraft families, it has historically seen a far more diverse array of planes serve in its fleet. Let’s take a look at exactly which aircraft El Al has flown.
We shall start by establishing which aircraft types make up El Al’s current fleet. In truth, the Israeli flag carrier operates a very uniform set of planes. Indeed, one aircraft family takes care of the airline’s short-haul operations, with just two doing the honors for long-haul.
Starting with El Al’s shorter-haul operations, data from ch-aviation.com shows that Boeing 737s presently serve these duties. At the time of writing, El Al operates 16 737-800s and eight 737-900ERs. The former of these have an average age of 16.8 years old. Meanwhile, the latter variant has an average age of just 6.5 years old.
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In terms of long-haul aircraft, El Al is also loyal to Boeing. One of the US manufacturer’s designs with a presence in the Israeli carrier’s fleet is the 777. Specifically, El Al operates six 777-200ERs with an average age of 18.1 years old. At the more modern end of the scale, it also has three 787-8s (1.6 years on average) and 12 787-9s (2.9 years on average).
Previous Boeing aircraft
When it comes to El Al’s historical fleet, several more Boeing families come into the picture. For example, ch-aviation’s data shows that two further 737 variants have flown for the Israeli flag carrier. These are the 737-200 and the 737-700, with two examples of each. Staying with Boeing narrowbodies, ch-aviation also shows that 11 757-200s have served El Al.
Moving onto Boeing’s widebodies, arguably the US manufacturer’s most famous design in this domain is the legendary 747. Known by many as the jumbo jet, El Al operated examples from both the 747-200 (10 aircraft) and 747-400 (nine aircraft) variants, in both cargo and passenger-carrying capacities. The airline withdrew its last 747 in November 2019.
El Al has also operated three variants from Boeing’s 767 family. The most numerous of these twin-engine widebodies was the 767-300ER, with seven examples. Meanwhile, two standard 767-200s served the airline, as well as four 767-200ERs. Finally, ATDB.aero adds that several 707 variants, including the shortened 720, also flew for El Al.
We can see that, both presently and historically speaking, El Al is an airline that is loyal to Boeing aircraft. However, this doesn’t mean that the US manufacturer has had a complete monopoly on the Israeli flag carrier’s fleet in years gone by. For example, Planespotters.net notes that it has flown the Douglas DC-8 and the McDonnell Douglas MD-11.
Looking much further into the past, several classic propeller-driven designs emerge. These came largely from the US, but the UK also saw representation in the form of its Bristol Type 175 ‘Britannia.’ US propeller-driven designs that formed El Al’s early fleet included the Curtiss C-46 ‘Commando,’ the Douglas DC-4, and the Lockheed L-049 ‘Constellation.’
How many of El Al’s different aircraft types have you flown on? Do you have a particular favorite? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.