EL AL Launching Nonstop Flights To Las Vegas

Filed Under: El Al

At the moment EL AL is refreshing their fleet thanks to the nine Boeing 787-9s that they’re taking delivery of, which are replacing their aging 747s. This is allowing the airline some expansion opportunities, and is also greatly improving their product. I flew EL AL’s 787 business class from Newark to Tel Aviv last year, and had an excellent flight.

The airline has now announced a new destination altogether, and also confirmed the launch of a route that has been in the works for a long time.

EL AL launching flights to Las Vegas

Okay, this truly isn’t what I was expecting. EL AL will be launching once weekly nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Las Vegas as of June 14, 2019.

The new route will operate with the following schedule:

Fridays: Tel Aviv to Las Vegas departing 7:00AM arriving 11:15AM
Saturdays: Las Vegas to Tel Aviv departing 11:45PM arriving 10:15PM (+1 day)

Israel’s ministry of tourism is providing a €250,000 grant to an airline that starts a nonstop flight to a destination not currently served from Israel, so I imagine that’s a positive motivating factor here (though that amount of money only goes so far when we’re talking about operating a ~7,400 mile flight).

EL AL’s other US destinations include Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Newark, and soon, San Francisco.

I’m sure EL AL has their logic here, though on the surface this seems really odd to me:

  • In terms of destinations with the most demand from Israel, you’d think there would be cities higher on the list, like Chicago
  • Las Vegas isn’t a destination that was previously that hard to get to
  • I get a once weekly flight to a secluded island, or something, but Las Vegas doesn’t seem like a destination to which you’d offer that sort of frequency

So yeah, this one is a real head-scratcher to me, and I’m curious to see how this flight performs.

Some might say “well people can fly into Las Vegas and out of another gateway,” and while that’s true, that typically doesn’t line up with the patterns with how people shop for flights. Most people book roundtrip tickets, because for the most part online booking tools don’t make it as easy to book open jaw tickets.

EL AL also confirms San Francisco launch

In January EL AL announced that they’d launch flights between Tel Aviv and San Francisco. The flight was supposed to launch in December 2018, though that ended up being pushed back.

Well, the new launch date for the route has now been revealed. EL AL will launch their 3x weekly nonstop flight between Tel Aviv and San Francisco as of May 13, 2019.

Bottom line

I’m happy to see EL AL finally launch their route to San Francisco. United seems to do well on the San Francisco route, and I imagine there’s room for another player in the market.

The once weekly flight between Las Vegas and Tel Aviv is a real oddball, though, and I’m curious to see how it performs.

What do you make of EL AL’s new flight to Las Vegas?

(Tip of the hat to Micah)

  1. That is a CRAZY flight based on the economics. One thought is that Adelson is backing the flight in some indirect way or asked Israel/El Al to make it happen.

  2. Las Vegas is a huge convention/trade show destination, particularly for tech. I suspect this will be successful and will be impossible to get a seat during certain times of the year.

    Anybody know the best way to redeem J on El Al using other programs?

  3. Sounds like a weekend trip to play in the desert. They will have their whole weekend in Vegas before flying home 🙂

  4. To collect the 250k for opening up a new destination I would have thought that a twice daily flight to Tehran would have better economics.

  5. @Mak- valid point about conferences, but what would drive demand outside of those maybe 4 weeks a year? A statement from El Al said something about Christian pilgrims who live in the southwest region- I get that a little bit, I guess. But would driving to Las Vegas make more sense than connecting through Chicago or New York, for someone in Phoenix?

  6. I personally think 1 of the reasons their doing it because there are no casinos in Israel as part of the Jewish religion so having direct flights to Las vagas could be a hige boost for them
    Now they all fly to Romania (obviously using blue jet or wizz air) so I actually thin it might play out for them rather nice

  7. They will use the same crew to turn the plane which will cut down on some cost since they likely have nothing to do with the plane anywhere else over Shabbat. It would be a good kicker if they could complete a maintenance check in LAS with that much time.

  8. El Al in the past years is seeing massive growth and in just 4 years launched flights to 4 new us destinations (Boston on 28th of June 2015 , Miami , San Fran and Las Vegas launching June 2019) also the redemption of flights to Manchester and Lisbon! Although the Las Vegas flights is a bit of a weird move, and adding a flight to Los angles would be more logical.

  9. And intentionally keeping an aircraft on the ground for 36 hours is totally idiotic $250000 would probably cover the loss made to operate the flight.

  10. I hate to say it guys, but don’t you think LY picked an airport where it is cheap to keep a plane on the ground for 36 hours? Otherwise they would have picked a different day of the week. And all of their planes are out of commission for 1 day per week, so it isn’t a special economic issue that it sits on the ground for 36 hours over SHABBAT when all LY flights are grounded. I don’t know about the destination, but the letting the plane sleep there for 36 hours is probably cheaper than EWR or SFO or JFK or LAX.

  11. +1 for the Adelson connection. His $1 billion support of the GOP this cycle bought him the rights to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and also bought him a US Medal of Freedom for his wife, so getting this flight is just icing on the cake for him.

  12. @Icarus – the plane would be on the ground most of that time anyway for Shabbat, so the actual downtime wouldn’t be that much different on another route.

    I still wonder how much casino demand there is in Israel that wouldn’t be satisfied with connections, visits to casinos in Europe, etc. OTOH I have heard of visitors from Israel going to Atlantic City or Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun during a visit to NYC, so maybe there’s more than I think?

  13. People who are scratching their heads know nothing about Israeli culture. There is a huge gambling culture in Israel. There use to be a Casino in Jaffa that was so profitable and would bus Israelis into it everyday and take in millions. That was before the first intifada and the PA was stupid enough to use it as a launching pad for rockets, and it went out of business when Israel had to blow it up as a result.

    In addition to that people can pick up this route who are flying from the west coast that need to get to Tel-Aviv.

  14. Sorry the Casino was in Jericho. Look it up on google. Huge casino market in Israel in addition to the trade shows the route should be very profitable.

  15. I think there’s a typo. TLV to LAS should arrive on Friday. LY doesn’t fly on Shabbat. (Friday Sunday to Saturday sunset).

  16. @Matthew Thanks!

    @DCJoe These conventions are happening all year round . . . that’s actually how Sheldon Adelson became a billionaire, not casinos or gambling (he was smart enough to buy the Las Vegas Sands for its Convention Center). At any field that is remotely IT/Semiconductor/computer/biotech/tech related, there will be plenty of people flying premium from Israel (just like from Korea which also has nonstops to LAS). I suspect that this is the business case, with general tourism making up the rest.

  17. there are tons of israeli expats in las vegas as well

    they can easily fill one flight per week i imagine

  18. Why would Adelson need an El Al flight from LAS to TLV when he just has his own jets that can do it just fine? Like his A340 that flew from TLV to HNL

  19. I think the frequency and scheduling is a little strange but las Vegas is filled with Israelies and in Israel Vegas is looked at as dream vacating along with new York

  20. I was amused by the suggestion that passengers should connect via another US city.

    Anyone with half a brain will avoid US domestic airlines at almost any cost. Flying domestic F to connect on the east cost with a real airline J cabin is just not on. TK LAX-IST is a great flight and the fun starts the moment you get on the aircraft. Not 7 hours of domestic misery and another TSA pat down at a crummy airport to start, thank you!

  21. Suggesting that the crew could ‘turn the plane’ while it is grounded during Shabbat misses the point entirely. The faithful are not allowed to do any work while observing Shabbat and many if not all of the crew will be observing the restriction. So it doesn’t matter where the plane is sitting. And the crew cannot be scheduled to work.

  22. This gave me a great chuckle as on a visit to Israel I met up with distant relations; a very hard working very well-educated couple who live in the south of the country in the desert area.
    The husband did post grad studies in Boston.
    Had a great surprise when I asked if they visit Boston when they come to USA now.
    They commented no we love to visit at Las Vegas and stay there for a week enjoying the food and shows.
    Guess they get their just des(s)erts lol.

  23. @Azamaraal +1

    Connecting through a US airport? One must be absolutely out of his mind to even think about that. As long as the US is not yet capable to handle sterile transits and one has to go through all the hassle and bullying, queuing, potentially being interrogated, listening to ‘there is always a next flight’ statements from officers who don’t give a shit and generally speaking extremely poorly designed airports I guess only first time flyers would make such mistake. And likely not do it again after the whole experience.

  24. @pedro and lucky— The Vegas outbound flight after Shabbat was at 10:45pm (not 11:45pm as article starts with). El Al actually just changed the departure time to 10:00pm. Both times are bizarre since Shabbat does not end until 8:45pm for the Saturday departures.

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