Details: EL AL’s Nonstop “Trial” Flights To Melbourne, Australia

Filed Under: El Al

In late November I wrote about how EL AL announced that they planned to “trial” nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne, and we now have the details of what this will look like.

EL AL Will Fly To Melbourne 3x Times In 2020

EL AL will be operating three roundtrip nonstop trips between Tel Aviv and Melbourne in 2020:

  • The flights will operate from Tel Aviv to Melbourne on April 2, April 23, and May 14
  • The flights will operate from Melbourne to Tel Aviv on April 4, April 25, and May 16

As you can see, the flights are spaced about three weeks apart, and in Melbourne the plane will be sitting on the ground for a day. Presumably this is so that the same crew can operate the flight in both directions.

The flight will be operating with the following schedule:

LY87 Tel Aviv to Melbourne departing 11:15AM arriving 11:30AM (+1 day)
LY88 Melbourne to Tel Aviv departing 11:15PM arriving 10:00AM (+1 day)

The direct distance for the trip clocks in at 8,535 miles, though in reality the distance flown would be significantly more than that. EL AL has to avoid a lot of airspace in the region, and can’t overfly Saudi Arabia, which would otherwise be in the path.

The flight is blocked at 16hr15min eastbound and 17hr45min westbound.

Tickets Are Now On Sale

Tickets for this flight are now on sale, and are pricey in business but pretty reasonably priced in economy.

Since most people won’t want to stay in Australia for exactly three weeks, presumably most people would be booking the nonstop in one direction, and then would be routing via an Asian gateway on the return, or vice versa.

EL AL has some codeshare partners, including Qantas.

Why Is EL AL Operating This Flight?

The whole concept of these test flights is interesting. Globes reports that the flights are being operated to test the physical ability of passengers and crew to endure such a long flight, as well as the economics of the route.

So on the surface they’re trying to test demand in the market, given that there’s currently no nonstop link between Israel and Australia.

Personally I’m not sure I totally get the logic of this, much like with Qantas’ Project Sunrise flights, which seem to be more about generating publicity than anything else:

  • While this will be the longest-ever flight for EL AL, there are flights that are even longer that are operated by other airlines, so I’m not sure what they’re hoping to test in terms of the physical limitations
  • Operating three flights three weeks apart won’t tell you much about the economics of such a route

One thing is for sure, the airline has been getting creative with routes. For example, recently EL AL launched once weekly flights to both Las Vegas and Orlando.

Historically Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has provided a €250,000 grant to an airline that starts a nonstop flight to a destination not currently served from Israel. I’m not sure if these three test flights qualify for that grant, though if they do, then perhaps that’s a consideration. Then again, €250,000 only gets you so far when you’re operating nearly 18 hour flights…

EL AL’s Boeing 787-9

EL AL will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, which features 282 seats.

This includes 32 fully flat business class seats with direct aisle access (I reviewed this product between Newark and Tel Aviv)…

EL AL’s 787 business class seat

28 premium economy seats, in a 2-3-2 configuration…

EL AL’s 787 premium economy

And 222 economy seats, in a 3-3-3 configuration.


EL AL’s 787 economy

EL AL has come a long way in terms of modernizing their fleet, as the airline has retired their 747s and now primarily uses 787s and 777s for their long haul flights.

Bottom Line

EL AL will be operating three roundtrip flights from Tel Aviv to Melbourne in April and May 2020, and they’ll be about three weeks apart. They say this is to test physical limits and economics of the route, though I’m not sure either of those will be accomplished.

Either way, it’s awesome to see a new nonstop link like this being explored!

What do you make of EL AL testing the Australia market?

Comments
  1. There is a large orthodox Jewish community in Australia, so it makes sense that they would be able to load up flights with those travelers. Maybe there are a lot of other religious pilgrims in the country/region who would be interested in the direct flight. In terms of regular tourism, I’m not sure how strong the demand would be from Australia, though.

  2. An interesting stopover for onwards flights to Europe. Not sure if connecting traffic fits El Al’s business model, though. Certainly interesting to see if this will finally encourage TK to consider Australia viable.

  3. Heaps of Jews in Melbourne, Is worth a test I guess, Would be a nore interesting way to get to Europe than using the ME3 especially if could do a stop over in Israel

  4. Other than the distance and economics of this route, I’m sure that LY is also taking into consideration the fact that there isn’t almost any friendly territory to land at in case anything goes wrong during this flight.

  5. Inner city Melburnians like to think of themselves as the wokest of the woke people and are unlikely to travel to Tel Aviv because they are worried their friends will criticise them

  6. In fact, they don’t just have to avoid Saudi Arabia. They have to fly on the Red Sea from south of Socotra Islands and only turn inland after reaching Eilat. That makes the distance 9000mi+ (only slightly shorter than Qantas’ PER-LHR)

    Plus the security situation in Yemen could make the route difficult as well, you would have Houthi rebels with their missiles ready to target EL AL jets at anytime.

  7. Apparently Qantas codeshares with EL AL. MEL-HKG on QF and HKG-TLV on LY. That would be one incentive to launch MEL-TLV nonstop.

  8. Let it be clear that just because someone is Jewish, doesn’t automatically mean they have any interest in visiting Israel let alone flying ElAl

  9. We have a large Jewish community in Melbourne so this is a good idea indeed. Also the Gulf carriers don’t fly to Tel Aviv yet so this is already an advantage for El Al.

  10. “Would be a nore interesting way to get to Europe than using the ME3 especially if could do a stop over in Israel”

    Why only single out the ME3? Lots of people also fly through Asia to get to Australia from Europe…

    I mean, who knows, maybe they do want to get into that market as well, but don’t make this an ME3 vs. Israel thing.

  11. The airline already observes the Sabbath, so there’s no reason for a daily flight year-round. LY should consider a seasonal non-stop service. Otherwise, have a 5th freedom operation from BKK. Plenty of airlines use Thailand as a stopover.

  12. @KK Any route from BKK to Australia will involve going through Indonesian airspace. El Al isn’t allowed to fly over Indonesia, and there will be a lengthy detour required (most likely via the Philippines) for a route bypassing these restrictions.

  13. The announcement today comes in the wake of a bad financial report, that caused the stock to plummet 22.4% in one day!
    An attempt to refocus the attention? Perhaps…

  14. I live in Melbourne and would welcome the opportunity to code share with QF and get a points trip to Israel! Mind you I have never flown El Al. Incidentally, according to whilst Melbourne does have the largest Jewish population in Australia, according to the the Australian Bureau of statistics (ABS) 2016 Census, only 91000 identify as belonging to Judaism (number taken from ABS site). Not sure that is significant enough to be the only reason for this flight.

  15. I think a few points to consider and why Melb was considered over Syd which I understand may have a larger Jewish population. Melb operates 24 hrs a day so I suspect this flight will arrive depart late at night which makes connections with Qantas impossible for outbound connections. We Aussies are points addicts so if qf code and status credits earned though EK may have issues it would be another option to Europe. More than enough religious and individuals to fly 3x a week.

  16. Bring it on as a Melbournian I would love to fly to Tel Aviv and holiday in Israeli and I am not Jewish and I know lot Melbournians would like to stopover in Israel on their way to Europe. Can someone also tell me what the wokest people means? Melbourne is without doubt Australia’s most cosmopolitan, sophisticated city and love to travel to interesting historical destinations.

  17. People always seem to try and explain a new route through an “ethnic link” between communities and their perceived “homeland”. I think it’s rarely a driver of route launch for any airline.

    This is much more likely a tourism play, and probably as much about Israelis as Australians. LY has been flying packed planes to and from BKK not because of there are “loads of Jews in Thailand”, or for that matter much business traffic between Israel and Thailand. Israelis love to take frequent vacation breaks from their small, landlocked country. Europe and cheap destinations in Asia have been favored for a long time, but with so much new tech money in the country, I can see MEL as a new gateway to the more costly destinations of Australia and (probably especially) New Zealand.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Ozzies are global explorers too, and I’m sure even some woke Melbournites wouldn’t mind a few days of sightseeing in Jerusalem or partying in Tel Aviv.

  18. Very interesting move by El Al. Something QF could have looked at if they weren’t so distracted by other stuff

  19. “Israelis love to take frequent vacation breaks from their small, landlocked country.”

    I think you don’t know what “landlocked” means…the West Bank is landlocked. Israel, not so much.

  20. They could use South Indian airports to refuel/stopover like Trivandrum International Airport, plus a lot of non Jewish pilgrims from Kerala (India) fly to Israel to visit the holy places. India and Israel have good international and diplomatic relations with each other.

  21. “Wokest of the woke” Melburnians who won’t take this flight because they’re “worried” about what their friends think of them?

    Goodness me. I had no idea. I’ll make sure I write that down so that I can start giving a hoot what a possibly-existent woke hipster in Fitzroy North thinks of me. Maybe time for a neighbourhood, Nicola?

  22. @ Aaron..
    Not making it an ME3 vs Israel thing. Im an atheist but find looking through Jerusalem and Israel more interesting as a stopover in terms of tourism. Other than city scapes Dubai, Abu
    Dhabi and Doha have nothing that really appeals to me to see out on foot exploring other than cool architecture. I think Israel has a more interest that appeals to me

  23. The flight itself is “only” 8500 miles long, compared to the London to Perth one blocking above 9000; I assume, if all else are equal, blocking 30-40 seats for the wind-facing trip is all El Al needs to do to make it, given the Qantas flight.

  24. “Not making it an ME3 vs Israel thing. Im an atheist but find looking through Jerusalem and Israel more interesting as a stopover in terms of tourism. Other than city scapes Dubai, Abu
    Dhabi and Doha have nothing that really appeals to me to see out on foot exploring other than cool architecture. I think Israel has a more interest that appeals to me”

    Most people traveling between Europe and Australia stay at the airport during transit times. And as I said the ME3 isn’t the only option, many people also travel via Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, etc.

  25. You guys are missing the point.
    LY Was codesharing to MEL and SYD via BKK,HKG with TG and CX for decades.
    CX started directs to TLV and hammered LY.
    LY retaliated by codesharing with QF to Aust now, but that still doesnt work. many pax from both sides (exTLV,exMEL/SYD) have switched to CX.
    only way left for LY to combat this lose of load is by flying direct.
    So they launched.
    I do believe this route is feasible and can see LY get some market share back.
    This will probably put another bullet into their HKG route though.

  26. LY is a basket case by spreading the flights so far apart that it doesn’t give people the opportunity to book round trip with them even if they wanted to.

    They’re also idiots for not timing the flights better around Passover which is among the busiest travel seasons to Israel. The first flight is probably too soon before Passover, and the last 2 flights are some of the lowest travel periods to Israel.

    If they wanted to test how a one way 9,000 mile flight during low season can perform, these trials flights will do a great job of that.

  27. When Qantas started doing their 787-9 to Perth, I couldn’t help but wonder when they would start Perth-Tel Aviv flights because of the close ties shared between the 2 nations. There’s plenty of airspace El Al must avoid, including those of Indonesia & Malaysia. If there’s engine trouble close to that area, their ETOPS must be enough to get between Australia & Diego Garcia. Wonder if QF will react with their own MEL-TLV or PER-TLV?

  28. This is an interesting flight option though even the Jews I have spoken to in Australia, who are excited about the prospect of this new route, don’t really see how it could work long term either!

    Re the large gap between flights, the ones in April are centered around the Passover (Pesach) holiday, probably the time of year when most observant Jews travel to be with family! 3 weeks sounds like a lot but the holiday lasts for 8 days and there is prep before. Additionally, many Jewish teenagers/young adults study in Israel and have the two weeks before the holiday off, so another reason for the timing? All conjecture on my part, will be interesting to see how it plays out though!

    Thanks for the report!

  29. Would love to see it come live.
    Personally, I would love to go through Israel, have a short stay there and then move on to other European countries/ city pairs. Greece is one of them. Spending 2 to 3 days in Tel-Aviv & Jerusalem would be great and a preferred option. Going to Greece from Melbourne can be a huge hassle plus price wise. Some might say, fly Scoot. Scoot is a LCC and reviews are very mixed and mostly on the negative, and when you start addi g the normal excess items, not that competitive anymore. My preferred ME carrier doesn’t come to Australia anymore anyway and Singapore is expensive too. There was a Chinese carrier that I would have considered too, but that stopped flying to Greece, and when you have annual leave / long service leave comming up, and traveling with family, well you do need the 25- 30kg luggage allowance for a couple of the members. The other option that is a great service, is Royal Brunei, but that means two stops, one in Brunei, then London. When I first heard about this news, I got excited. Let’s hope that they are able to get it to work and peace prevails in the ME.

  30. We fly regularly between Tel Aviv and Melbourne – at least once a year. We are thrilled that El Al is flying to Melbourne, although we probably won’t use it very much as we travel on American Airline points. We usually fly Royal Jordanian to Amman and Etihad to Abu Dhabi, connecting to Melbourne. Etihad is great, Royal Jordanian and Amman airport are not amongst my favourite airlines and places to visit. With Israel, unlike Jordan, there’s no cost for a short-stay visa, and the temperature is far more mild than Abu Dhabi – even in summer.
    Not many Aussies travel to Israel despite it’s historical connections with Australia going back over 100 years, and its reputation a the safest destination in the Middle East. It seems many more Israelis come to Australia for a visit than the other way around.
    The are many airlines that already fly to Israel so it’s a great place to make connections to a large number of places in Europe and the Mediterranean.

  31. “ Aries1470 says:
    January 25, 2020 at 10:42 pm
    Would love to see it come live.
    Personally, I would love to go through Israel, have a short stay there and then move on to other European countries/ city pairs. Greece is one of them. Spending 2 to 3 days in Tel-Aviv & Jerusalem would be great and a preferred option. ”…Good points. I have often heard enthusiastic (nonaffiliated)travellers talk of the attraction of a direct service to TLV as a gateway to ie Greece, Cyprus or Malta. However from my own experience sharing El Al’s jam-packed sardine-can Y/cl configuration with a planeload of religious pilgrim groups may be a bit uncomfortable .

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