By Ezra Gollan
El Al Reintroduces Boeing 777 Commercial Passenger Flights to Meet Rising Demand
El Al — the Israeli flag carrier — has announced it will bring back its Boeing 777s, as demand for travel continues to rise. The airline had said earlier in the year that it would refit the fleet, with the airline’s new cabin product, in order for them to be ready should they be needed for the summer travel demand.
Most of El Al’s Boeing 777s are over 20 years old, and while it is unclear how many have been refitted, it is clear that El Al — like almost every other major airline — needs more capacity and needs it fast.
The airline said the aircraft would be deployed on routes to Phuket, Thailand; Dubai, The United Arab Emirates; Athens, Greece and Bangkok. Flightradar24 showed 4X-ECD, a 20 -year-old 777 en-route from Tel Aviv to Paris, after what looked to be months of test flights within Israel.
El Al’s Boeing 747 fleet had been retired since November of 2019, as El Al had finally expanded its long haul fleet and network with 15 new Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners. This was, at last, offering a hard product that could stack up to its competition.
It seemed logical to think that El Al would have little reason to refurbish 20-year-old 777s, given that the fleet will most likely age out in the coming years, but if there is one thing that can be learned from El Al’s Boeing 747 operation, it is that these aircraft will be flown, until they are just no longer up to passenger standards. Many of the carrier’s 747s had reached the 24-25 year service mark by the time they were scrapped. For comparison, United Airlines operated many of its 747’s for about 19 to 20 years on average. United also had a considerably larger number of aircraft on hand ready to replace the Queen of the Skies.
El Al’s need for added capacity does not come as a shock to anyone with the mayhem and travel surge that has occurred for the summer of 2022. The airline had said it would suffer millions in damages if the airline’s 777s do not operate and fly when travel demand is at its highest peaks.
El Al has seen a significant spike in demand through Tel Aviv this year and has sold tickets on its website, with the 777 being listed as the operating aircraft.
El Al has found itself in a scramble on the labor side of things recently. The airline recently settled with Histradut — Israel’s largest labor union representing El Al pilots.
The new agreement will have all El Al pilots earning pre-COVID 19 salaries. Looming mass cancellations such as what occurred with SAS last month meant that El Al needed to act quickly. The airline has not published plans for reintroducing the aircraft to crews, though it says proper testing and training has been done.