EL AL To Trial Nonstop Flights To Melbourne, Australia

Filed Under: El Al

While the exact details haven’t yet been revealed, EL AL has announced that they plan to “trial” nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne, Australia, as of the second quarter of 2020.

The intent of the new route is to test demand in the market, given that there’s currently no nonstop link between Israel and Australia.

EL AL will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, which features 282 seats, including 222 economy seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 32 business class seats (read a review of EL AL’s 787-9 business class).

EL AL’s 787 business class seat

This would be an ultra long haul flight, and EL AL says that the journey would take 16hr45min eastbound and 17hr45min westbound.

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.

One thing that’s not entirely clear yet is what exactly EL AL’s plans are for “testing” this route. My understanding is that this isn’t a one-off flight like Qantas does with their Project Sunrise test flights, but rather they plan on testing the economic viability of the route.

How many frequencies will they offer per week, and for how long do they plan to initially operate the route? Building up demand for ultra long haul flights takes time, so it’s unlikely that the route would be profitable from day one.

In other words, if the goal is to test the profitability of the route, they’re going to need to operate more than a handful of flights to Australia.

EL AL has come a long way in modernizing their fleet, as the airline has retired their 747s and now primarily uses 787s and 777s for their long haul flights. We’ve seen some interesting new growth with these 787s, like once weekly flights to both Las Vegas and Orlando.

One consideration is that at least 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 imagine that’s at least part of the reason they launched Las Vegas and Orlando flights, and perhaps is a small motivator for the Melbourne flight.

Though truth be told, €250,000 only gets you so far when you’re operating nearly 18 hour flights…

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

  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. “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.

  19. 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.

  20. “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?

  21. @ 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

  22. 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.

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