El Al El Al

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The History of Aviation


Airlines

El Al

From its humble beginnings in 1948 EL AL, Israel?s national airline continues to adhere to the same objectives as the day it was chartered ? assisting those in need, reuniting thousands of families and providing Jewish immigrants from hostile countries with a chance for a new life in Israel.Ê Most importantly, EL AL secures and maintains a regular air link with Israel at all times.

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EL AL’s initial dream was to bring Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizman, from Geneva home to Israel in 1948.Ê Since that historic first flight, EL AL passengers have included new settlers, families on pilgrimages, international celebrities, and massive airlifts of Jews from oppressed nations.Ê When the Jewish population in Yemen was in grave danger, “Operation Magic Carpet “ began in 1950.Ê Planes flew around the clock airlifting 47,000 Yemenite Jews to safety in Israel.Ê

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In May of 1991, EL AL assisted in airlifting more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews as part of “Operation Solomon,” one of the most dramatic rescue missions in the history of Israel’s national airline.Ê One specially configured EL AL 747 Boeing aircraft carried 1,087 Ethiopians (almost 2-1/2 times the normal number of passengers)—setting an international aviation record.

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As part of “Operation Exodus,” EL AL carried hundreds of thousands of Soviet immigrants to Israel.Ê On board their flights to Israel, the new immigrants were welcomed in a special video in Russian, which was produced by EL AL to help them adjust with ease into their new lives in Israel.

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Continuing with its tradition of helping those in need, EL AL has made a pledge to the government of Israel that at any time of the day or night EL AL will organize and operate a flight to carry immigrants to Israel from anyplace within 12 hours.

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Although EL AL takes pride in its many humanitarian missions, it is primarily a commercial airline that continues to expand.Ê In May of 1961, EL AL launched its first Boeing 707 flight between Tel Aviv and New York.Ê A month later, EL AL set the world record for its first nonstop Boeing 707 flight between New York and Tel Aviv.Ê The record was for the longest commercial flight, covering 5760 statute miles in nine hours and 33 minutes.Ê In June of 1971, EL AL inaugurated its 747 service between Tel Aviv and New York.Ê In June of 1995, EL AL was the first airline to operate nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, in a record time of 12 hours and 32 minutes -- the shortest flight for this route in history.

When EL AL faced increased costs for labor, fuel and operations in 1982, former EL AL President Rafi Harlev fused eight labor unions into one, initiated new routes, and transformed EL AL into one of the leading cargo carriers in the world.Ê

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Today, EL AL maintains cargo routes from Tel Aviv to more than 50 destinations worldwide and is the only airline with 747-freight service between the United States and Israel.Ê EL AL’s cargo fleet consists of two 747-200F and two 747-200 combination planes, which can be converted into passenger aircraft during the summer season.

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EL AL’s management team is committed to increasing EL AL’s market share and profitability by continuing to improve passenger service and modernizing the airline’s fleet, already one of the youngest in the industry.Ê In 1999, EL AL added six new aircraft, including the fourth 747-400, and received three new Boeing 777 aircraft in 2001 and the fourth in the spring of 2002.

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EL AL is the only airline operating Boeing 747-400's on the United States-Israel route.Ê The 747-400s offer the latest technology available in aviation and a personal TV monitor in every seat, in all classes of service.

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In June of 2000, EL AL announced 1999’s net profits of $16 million.Ê This occurred despite the increasingly high cost of fuel, a devaluation of the Israeli shekel that took place during 1999, and the fact that EL AL only flies 82% of the time due to the observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

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In 2001 with the outbreak of the second intifada tourism to Israel plummetted and El Al was forced to cut back service. In 2003 EL shares were sold on the Tel Aviv stock exchange for the first time. Thus for the first time in its history EL Al is not a government company. By the end of 2003 EL Al returned to profitability.

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