Israel’s EL AL To Operate First Flight To UAE (More Details)

Filed Under: El Al, Etihad

A couple of weeks ago a historic peace deal was announced between Israel and the UAE, which will hopefully usher in a new era of diplomacy. Part of this agreement involves commercial flights being added between the two countries.

A couple of days ago I wrote about an exciting update on that front, and now there are some more fascinating details about the logistics of the flight, as EL AL won’t be using the plane I was expecting.

First commercial nonstop flight between Israel & UAE?

Earlier this week US officials announced that the first commercial nonstop flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will operate next week. The flight will be operated by EL AL, Israel’s flag carrier, and will be to Abu Dhabi. This will represent EL AL’s first flight to the UAE.

The flight is expected to carry a US delegation, headed by the United States’ First Son-In-Law, Jared Kushner, and National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien. On top of that, the flight is going to have an Israeli delegation onboard, made up of experts in aviation, banking, space, and more.

The purpose of this trip is to start negotiations to eventually sign bilateral agreements.

Now let’s go over some of the interesting updates regarding this flight, according to The Jerusalem Post (tip of the hat to Alon).

EL AL will use a Boeing 737-800 for the flight

Initially I would have assumed that EL AL would use its flagship Boeing 787-9 aircraft for the route, given what a special flight this is. However, that’s not the case.

EL AL will be using a roughly five year old Boeing 737-800 for the route, with the registration code 4X-EHD. Why is EL AL using a Boeing 737-800 for the flight?

Allegedly this is because EL AL’s 737s have Israel Aerospace Industries Sky Shields, which are intended to protect aircraft against heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles. I didn’t realize that EL AL’s 737s have these, while the 787s don’t.

Does anyone have more background on why the 737s have it, but the 787s apparently don’t?

EL AL won’t be using a 787 for this flight

This flight will require lots of preparations

The 737-800 to be used for this flight has been grounded since mid-March, so it’s being taken out of storage to operate this flight. This requires a bit of preparation, though:

  • Given that it has been grounded for months, the plane itself will be doing some test flights, and already operated a 29 minute flight to & from Ben Gurion Airport today
  • EL AL is bringing back senior pilots from unpaid leave; since their licenses have lapsed, they’ll be flown to Amsterdam in order to have some simulator training

Is this flight actually “historic?”

The US is referring to this as the first scheduled commercial flight between Israel and the UAE. I wonder if that’s actually case, or if the government is just confused about what constitutes a commercial flight.

Will the flight actually be sold to the general public and have non-delegation passengers onboard? That seems unlikely to me, given that presumably there aren’t many Emiratis in Israel right now, and there’s still no bilateral agreement allowing Israelis to enter the UAE.

It seems to me that it’s more likely that a commercial aircraft is being chartered for this flight.

Will this actually be a commercial flight? (EL AL 787 interior)

Even if that’s the case, that still wouldn’t be the first flight between Israel and the UAE operated by a commercial aircraft. Recently Etihad Airways operated two controversial aid flights to Tel Aviv, with one being operated by an all-white A330, and the other being operated by a standard passenger 787.

That first flight was actually historic, as it was the first nonstop flight between Israel and the UAE.

Etihad has already flown nonstop to Israel

Bottom line

It will probably be a while before we actually see regularly scheduled commercial flights between Israel and the UAE. Nonetheless, next week it’s expected that EL AL will operate a flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, carrying a US and Israeli delegation.

The flight will be operated by a 737-800 due to the safety equipment it has onboard, which the 787s allegedly don’t have. The plane is being taken out of storage for this flight, and the pilots also require training prior to being able to operate this flight, since they’ve also been grounded for months.

(Featured image courtesy of Jakkrit Prasertwit)

  1. Please don’t say “First Son-In-Law”. I just ate. “First” applies officially only to thye spouse of a male President. The rest is US media silliness. “The President’s son-in-law” should suffice.

  2. @D3kingg

    There are already flights from Jordan and Egypt to Israel. The reason they, and the UAE flights, won’t be a problem is that Israel conducts additional security checks at departure points.

  3. Kushner’s stunt to wow the MAGAs just before the election. Look! We kept all our promises! Palestinians knifed, Middle East peace farther away than ever. The Sheikhs shown up for what they are. This is an historic betrayal.

  4. @BenDR sorry Lefty Lucky isn’t left enough for you. “First“ will also apply when there is the first female president as well.

  5. @D3kingg: Speaking as a Jewish person, I find it strange that you mentioned the salivating Arab terrorists but didn’t say anything about the Jewish terrorists, the Christian terrorists, or the Buddhist terrorists, who are also known to salivate, drool, expectorate, and kill. Take a look at recent or not-so-recent history and you’ll find a diversity of contemptible terrorists and terrorism associated with all of those groups.

    Perhaps wise not to sound too much like a bigot, at least in public.

  6. @Indopithecus Do you ever wonder why none of these Arab countries actually care about the “Palestinians?” It’s because they don’t benefit them in any way. Unlike Israel, which provides technology, science, health innovations, security intelligence, etc to the rest of the world the “Palestinians” spend their international aid on paying terrorist’s salaries. So no one “knifed” the “Palestinians.” They knife themselves by supporting terror and non-recognition of the only Jewish country in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East.

  7. Travel is restricted and el al grounded There won’t be a sudden rush in travellers to/from/via Dubai as they can’t travel

  8. @Daniel

    Israel isn’t exactly rushing to recognize a Palestinian state either.

    And its unfair to list what the Palestinians haven’t accomplished when they’ve been under some form of occupation for decades now.

  9. @Daniel Of course you know Israel isn’t a democracy in the sense that America is, or as other Western democracies are. It lacks a Bill of Rights and guarantee of individual liberties regardless of color or creed. It has theocratic elements, with the rabbinate controlling the recognition of marriage, and denying official recognition to interfaith/non-Orthodox marriages. Particularly with the passage of the 2018 “nation-state” law, Israel abandoned a pretense of equality in law and declared itself a nation that explicitly favors one ethnic/cultural/religious group over another, and its intention to enshine that ethnic supremacy in law:

    Israel could legitimize its position if it make all people equal under the law and extended citizenship to the millions of people whose land it has controlled and claimed for decades, but Likudniks and extremists in the country don’t really want to deal with the supreme inconvenience of being an actual democracy, where, you know, *all* of the people with historical and literal ties to the place get to vote. So we lurch along in embarrassing stasis, with Likud’s apologists pointing to relatively few Israeli Arabs as a weak argument for the integrity of Israel’s democracy, while conveniently overlooking the millions of stateless, voteless people whose land Israel controls and colonizes for reasons understandable and not.

    Whether you’re a die-hard Israeli nationalist or a leftist sympathizer with Israel’s historical enemies, it would be wise to press for change. This situation is not moral or sustainable.

  10. President Trump essentially gave Jerusalem to the Jews by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
    I do sympathize with the Palestinians no one gives a crap about them it’s unfortunate.

  11. @ Aaron
    You might need to better understand the reality. Many of those that use terms like occupation have no idea of the real conditions on the ground.
    Those that live in Israel have full rights as Israeli citizens. This includes travel, education and employment. If you visit many of the Israelis you interact with are Arabs. If you go to the Hospital your MD is likely an Israeli Arab.
    Those that live under Palestinian control have made lies and exaggerations an art. Sadly, everything is a cover for terrorist activities. If they can not goad Israel into something that photographs graphically, they photoshop it. The Palestinians asked for their Gaza and they got it, in exchange for a promise not to bomb, they lied. again.

  12. @D3kingg
    President Trump gave nothing to Israel. He moved the US Embassy to Israel’s capitol as is every other US Embassy and as provided for by US Law. The Embassy is in West Jerusalem, an area that was under Israeli control from 1948 and not seized by the Arabs in 48.
    Israeli’s also have groups that want peace and free rights for all. It is very hard to muster support to a people that foment violence, plant bombs and now send balloons with fuel to light agricultural fields on fire.
    Gaza used to have hothouses that grew vegetables in clean conditions with no insect infestation, pioneered and built by Israelis. This entire industry was destroyed when Gaza was given over.

  13. @Donny
    You’ll have a leg to stand on when you can say that the vast majority of civilians who lived in Israel at the time of its modern creation and their descendants have Israeli citizenship and the vote. The majority of Arabs in Israel don’t enjoy any such representation and are stateless, even as Israel asserts a right to where they’ve lived for generations. The few who Israel has deigned to deem “Israeli Arabs” are in legal and statutory fact second-class citizens.

    Give full citizenship to everyone in Israel who has a history or a tie to the land and you’ll have a strong moral claim. Until then, it looks an awful lot like colonialist hypocrisy, following the usual tendency to blame those who suffer and protest the most under colonial rule.

  14. @Donny

    No president ever had the balls to move the embassy over to Jerusalem in fear of retaliation or whatever you want to call it.

  15. @Donny
    You talk with a lot of confidence about where Jerusalem belongs and who it belongs to. It’s worth pointing out that every other American president and administration disagrees with President Trump and refused to recognize Jerusalem as anything except what it was designated by the United Nations when it created Israel: an international city. I wouldn’t rely on Mr. Trump for authoritative rulings about, well, anything. He *is* good for far-right Likud, which of course does not represent most of Israel, or Israel’s interests.

  16. This is a good thing. President Trump moves troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The Trump wing of the GOP is a free speech, anti war, pro American worker party. I love it. Trump negotiated with the Afghans on both sides. Trump pushed for this UAE/Israel peace deal.

    I agree Palestinians are mistreated by Israel. Israel occupied Palestine in 1948 and what was done is terrible. Israel exists and it is impossible to go back. However, Palestinians do deserve their own sovereign territory with self governance. I understand Israel not ceding the Dome of the Rock or old Jerusalem but not letting Palestinians have a fair amount of territory they already live in is wrong. Trump’s Israel/Palestine peace plan is a step in the right direction. Trump acknowledged that Palestine has a right to exist. That’s more than a lot of past Presidents. We need to push that deal to expand area given to Palestine with their own borders and sovereign security forces to defend it. Republicans should always be supportive of groups that want to self governor. We want it here too.

  17. Given the cozy relationship between the Trumps and Bin Salman I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the plane over-fly Saudi airspace.

  18. Donny if it US law that the US embassy be in a capital city then pray tell us why the US Embassy to the Netherlands is in Wassenaar (next to Den Haag) and not Amsterdam?

    Den Haag may be where the Dutch government is but it’s not the Capital City.

  19. Last time I checked this is a Travel News/Reviews site not a political forum!

    If you wanna discuss politics take it elsewhere, there’s plenty of places you can do that especially in an election year!

    There’s a time and place for politics and a Travel site isn’t one of them!

  20. There’s already enough politics happening let’s not spread it onto this website!
    This is an escape from politics not an extension of it!

  21. @Phil agreed, good citizens we are here in 1938 and being as we are in a modern and progressive age, we are quite above politics and the habits of vulgar capitalists, Communists, Bolsheviks, and etcetera. Let us not discuss it, manners all! Have you yet seen the photograms of the intruiguing Slav, László Moholy-Nagy? He’s decamped to America, but I nonetheless find his work arresting with its jungle fervor and other tribal aspects

  22. @kendor

    Tons of current and former Israelis, myself included, really want a two-state solution to work. It just isn’t feasible when you have Gaza launching rockets, sending incendiary balloons, car-ramming soldiers, promoting terrorist activity, and the like, all after Israel exited, like they asked. On an average day, Gaza harms over one million square feet of Israel’s nature reserves via incendiary balloons. Israel cannot harbor that and give the Palestinians country status.

  23. damn…so, with KSA lifting airspace restrictions on Israeli carriers, and the launching of flights to the UAE, it’s all coming together.

    But, who would travel now? It’s not like you see Emiratis in Israel or Israelis in UAE. Or, will this route be subsidized by the governments instead?

  24. @bruh

    I don’t know what Emirati demand will be like, but I know Israelis want to go to Dubai, not to mention connect places from there.

  25. Respected Sir/ ALL:
    Let’s Refresh BASICS “Life is NOT to Live in a Ideal Situation “Prepare for the Worst and HOPE for the BEST
    Famous Saying – “Time is Always RIGHT to DO What is RIGHT”✌

    As a believer share, Time NOW Mindset Needs to CHANGE and everyone to Strive with efforts and contribute his/ her share/ Add Value before Travel/ TakeOFF Finally

    Needless to say, in Desperate Time No Shame to Re-Negotiate, Re-Negotiate …… Re-Negotiate with Prime Focus to Get Things DONE and True Negotiation is for All Stake Holders’ Acceptance + WIN WIN

    Have a Very Blessed Day and Bright Future Ahead, Insha’Allah
    With Profound regards
    Allah Kareem

  26. @Donny

    You are hilarious. Many Israeli-Palestinians feel like second class citizens and that the Israeli government only seems to care about them during election season. The state of Israel also spends less per capita on things like education, public services, infrastructure, etc, in Palestinian areas than Jewish areas. Also let me know when Israel will have an Arab prime minister or president. Israel might be all about equality but that is only on paper.

    As for the Palestinians in the rest of the Holy Land, when you keep getting more and more of your land annexed, you’d probably be grumpy too.

  27. I had a good laugh when I saw the “First Son-in-Law”, but the quarrel in the comment section is even more laughable.

  28. @Kendor

    You can blame it on Hollywood. The quintessential terrorist is an angry middle eastern guy. The terrorist in the movie True Lies was played by an Israeli. The Israeli Defense Forces and Jewish settlers in the West Bank have committed crimes against Palestinians but I wouldn’t describe them as terrorists.

  29. @ Aaron
    Discussing these issue is like wrestling witha n Octopus, every time you finish there is a new (misrepresented) issue.

    Stating that people “feel” like they are treated in a certain way sounds like politics. Facts count and many of the same issues apply in the USA.
    Prime minister is essentially selected as the leader of the party with the most votes, unlikely to have an Arab today. This a purely numbers issue, somewhat like saying whites were discriminated against when the US had a non-white President. There are many Arab members of Knesset, some of which foment violence against Israel.

    Israel always had Jews living there, you are picking one instance in history as your reference point. Jews were forced out of living in the West Bank for decades, basically by being murdered.
    As an aside, there were Jews in most Arab Countries, they were forced out with all their property being confiscated, yet this is never discussed. Why?

  30. @Joe I am actually not a fan of the two-state solution, which would simply push many issues down the road. The difficult but moral thing to do would have been to enfranchise everyone with citizenship and the vote after Israel “captured” territory in 1967, or after the decision to start annexing in 1981. The magic of democracy and wealth is that people are much less likely to resort to violence when they feel they have a vote in their own outcomes, and when they can participate fully in a country’s civic and financial success.

    One reason actual democracy didn’t happen is because, present rhetoric aside, at that time there was a robust debate among Israelis about the morality and wisdom of “capturing” territory, which is not a concept that is recognized or acceptable in modern international law.

    Another reason that didn’t happen is that giving millions of Arabs the vote flies in the face of many people’s conception of Israel as a state for Jewish people. Israeli Jews would have had to compromise with their neighbors as one does in a democracy. Israel has always had a tension between its self-image as a “Jewish Homeland” and its attempts to be a democracy in the Western style. These two ideas aren’t always compatible.

    The present tense is not any kind of solution. Israel has done many good things and I hope it finds leadership that can bring the nation to a better and more sustainable place.

  31. @ kendor
    You speak with a solid knowlege of the facts, for that I applaud you.
    Jews are not safe in a State ruled by Arabs or Moslems. History has demonstrated that again and again. Jews in general have been forced to leave Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, to name a few. We have seen the beheading of Israelis when they drove near Gaza, this morning an Israeli was slashed to death going to work in Central Israel, his kids orphaned by a Palestinian.

    With such bloody history it is hard to tell people to compromise with their neighbors as you propose.

  32. @ D3kingg
    It is not just the movies. It is real life, or actually death. This morning an Israeli in the center of Israel was slashed and murdered by a Palestinian. tell his orphaned kids it is Hollywood.

  33. @ Kendor

    Last post on this subject by me!

    You speak of Jerusalem being designated an International city. Pre 67 this International City barred Jews from their Holy Sites.
    The gate closest to these sites was named Dung Gate because piles of Dung were bought there.
    Facts are your enemy.

  34. @Donny

    Inasmuch as Israel receives US aid, says it is a democracy, professes to be the good guy, and represents us Jews, I will demand the very best from it. There’s plenty of blame to go around. I think Israel can, should, and needs to be more generous in spirit than the bad actors it has encountered. Smart, confident, and tough will get you only so far.

  35. @Lucky – can you do us readers a favour and block all comments until November 3rd? i bet even on your credit card posts, one person will manage to come up with ‘tHiS cReDiT cArD eXiStS OnLy bEcAuSe oF tHe TrUmP AdMiNiStRaTiOn.’

  36. @Bruh
    I literally agree with you!
    I’m so sick of politics being dragged into a travel website! There’s so many other platforms people can take their political messages to! A travel site is NOT one of them!

  37. Not about Politics!
    I recognize this as a site that should not evolve into politics
    I only respond when I see false statements passed off with impunity. My pledge is to continue never starting the political B S .
    Unless limited by the mod or rules, I will reply to untrue statements passed off as fact.

  38. If the flight won’t fly over Saudi airspace, then it will have to go south through Red Sea and then fly east and then NW in UAE. Does the El Al 737 have enough range for nonstop?

    Also, should be noted, the Etihad planes last month also didn’t use Saudi airspace, but took the “northern route” and overflew Iraq and Turkey. Can’t see El Al overflying Iraq (also definitely not Iran)

    I assumed that with this, El Al had the right to use the Saudi Airspace before realizing that it didn’t explicitly mention the allowance for Israeli registered airliners. I believe, this would be a plus for Emirates or Etihad, should they operate DXB-TLV or AUH-TLV flights. EK could have a flight time of just 4-4.5 hours while El Al’s flight time could take well over 7 hours.

    I believe the flight map of this route will be taking off from TLV in a northern direction, turning west and flying down south over the eastern coast of Africa before banking left over Ethiopia and heading straight and turning north over Muscat (Since Israeli airplanes can legally use the Omani Airspace) and heading straight down to AUH.

    I am assuming that El Al will have to make a technical stop in Addis Ababa or Muscat since they can legally land there.

  40. @David S

    Kosher is more strict than Halal as it has to follow a more rigorous blessing/slaughtering process. I may be wrong, but up until 5yrs ago, the ME3 offered Kosher meals on their flights. I requested one once from KWI-DXB-SYD just to see and it was tasty

  41. @kendor, as a former Israeli myself I want to say thanks for articulating the past and current state so well. Few people have insights like these.

  42. @ KinkiKuwaiti
    Please correct me if I am wrong!
    Kosher food might include items that have alcohol, such as marinade or creme deserts. My understanding is this might not be acceptable in Halal foods and is haram.

  43. @Arie thank you so much for the kind and considered words. It has always been very interesting to me how robust the debate and self-criticism is in Israel and Israeli media, whereas in many families in the USA even a whiff of criticism against Israel will get you tarred and feathered and your name crossed out of the family Torah, LOL.

    I visited Israel three times at length and my wife was a student in Jerusalem for a year: by the end of it she was fluent in Hebrew could fool even the taxi drivers with her faux-Israeli accent. I wish everyone in Israel the best and look forward to another visit one of these days.

  44. Ben,

    Your information about the “Sky Shields”, which are by the way not called that, is inaccurate.
    They have started on El Al’s Boeing 707s, and this is not a proper place to discuss them.

  45. @ James P and Ben:

    USING the Saudi airspace is one thing.
    ACKNOWLEDGING this is another thing. It can offend the most strictest segments of Saudi society, which is not an absolute necessity.

    In the same vein, “Unknown Traffic” is a term frequently used by Saudi air controllers (and others in the region) and nobody panics about it. Again, the less discussed, the easier. The Israeli media USUALLY know better but nobody’s perfect.

  46. wow Ben ! what kind of racism is that !! you left @D3kingg comment without deleting it !! you are such a white supremacist Anti-Semitic bigot !!!!!

  47. Everbody knows this whole nonsense of wannabee diplomatic ties is only used by the Trump clan to boost its reelection campaign. On Monday, the first flight will done And who are going to be onboard, yes you name it, Trump Trump political supporters.
    So thanks for this Muslim-Jews hatred poison spilled here. Real people with brain knows exactly what all this Middle East propanda diplomatic trips this year means.

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