• EL AL plans to expand its international routes to include Seattle, Manila, and Melbourne in the next five years, aiming to increase passenger numbers by 50%.
  • The airline intends to bounce back strongly after the pandemic, with g each 7.7 million passengers and boosting its presence through its leisure carrier, Sun d'Or.

Over the next five years, Israeli airline EL AL has hinted at international expansion plans that could see the Star of David touching down in Seattle, Washington, Manila in the Philippines, and Melbourne, Australia.

The carrier is looking to bounce back with a vengeance post-pandemic, with ambitions to increase passenger numbers by 50% in the next five years out of its base at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV). It also wants to see passenger numbers hit 7.7 million. The carrier has identified that it will also boost its presence through its leisure carrier, Sun d'Or.

Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

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Another US gateway

With Seattle on the cards, this would make it the first time that the two cities have been served, and become the airline's seventh US gateway. EL AL already serves Boston Logan, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Jersey, and New York John F. Kennedy airports, in addition to Fort Lauderdale, which is set to take off in September this year.

Data from Sabre noted that, in 2009, over 36,000 passengers traveled between Seattle and Tel Aviv, citing the demand from the US west coast. San Francisco, another critical market, utilizes a one-stop itinerary to Tel Aviv.

Photo: David Vardi / Shutterstock

Part of the carrier's expansion has been made possible by neighboring countries relaxing the Israeli airline's flyover rules. Saudi Arabia and Oman (among others) have relaxed airspace restrictions, reducing flights to Asia by up to two hours for EL AL.

The airline took off for Tokyo Narita this March, and New Delhi will also join the route map in October. Heading further East, Manila and Melbourne will become the carrier's first non-stop services to these nations, with Melbourne's longest route at 8,538 miles.

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Plenty of growth on the cards

EL AL recently signed a letter of intent with the state of Victoria, proposing to launch the anticipated Melbourne service by June 2024. Initially, it would serve the city three times a week. If the connection were to come to fruition, it would facilitate up to 44,000 direct seats per year and bring up to AU $48 million ($31 million) into the Victorian economy.

Markus Mainka
Photo: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

Looking at Sun d'Or, seasonal routes are set to connect Tel Aviv and Paphos, Tivat, and Ljubliana by the end of the year, alongside ambitions for the carrier to head to Istanbul, Porto, Naples, and Zagreb.

With 5.5 million passengers traveling with EL AL in the last year, its ambitions to hit seven million passengers by 2028 will be facilitated by growth in its fleet, increasing its 787 Dreamliners from 16 to 22 and 737-800 from 28 to 31.

Sources: Aviation Week