In another first, Ell Al will begin flying cargo planes to Dubai. The first such flight will take place on September 16 and for some reason go by way of Belgium, Reuters reported. So there is already a peace dividend from the stunning announcement of the establishment of diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates just a few short weeks ago.
And last week for the first time and El Al plane flew to the United Arab Emirates when it brought an official Israeli delegation to that Arab nation. There was another first as well when that flight was allowed to fly on a direct route through Saudi Arabian air space.
The new cargo route will fly from Tel Aviv to Belgium where it will pick up the cargo. It will then fly back eastward to unload the cargo in Dubai.
It wasn’t that long ago when the 747, made by Boeing, was the most advanced air plane in the world. It has two levels and its upper deck was a first class lounge complete with a bar. But anyone who made the trans-Atlantic passage between Israel and North America flying coach never saw it. They were crammed in like sardines in the main cabin.
And all those New York to Tel Aviv flights were historic. Think of all of those summer teen programs to Israel that took up whole planes, or the UJA groups who all met up in New York before flying on to Israel. It was not just a matter of Zionistic pride to choose to fly on Israel’s national carrier, even if it was not as nice as some others. Before 9/11 it was the safest airline to fly in the world. The security checks that are now standard everywhere were already performed by El Al security at airports around the world long before.
But now El Al might rely on air cargo services to stay in business.
A number of factors combined to bring about the demise of the 747 for passenger air travel. They are way to big and heavy and cramming so many people on board just added to the cost of fuel to carry all that extra weight. Newer, more cost effective, fuel efficient planes came into service and airlines realized that it was more profitable to now have fewer passengers pay for passage on smaller planes than to have the big 747 continue to fly.
The many 747s still in service are now being used for air freight.
And even before the Covid-19 worldwide shutdown El Al was having financial problems. Now the airline is on the brink and could use any new business after grounding all of its passenger aircraft for months. Facing bankruptcy, the company has been seeking a buyer.