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EL AL Israel Airlines' History

EL AL Israel Airlines' History

EL AL: Established in 1948 as the National Airlines of Israel, we have grown into a prestigious international carrier.

By attending to every aspect of service, and assuring that our passengers' needs are met on time, every time, EL AL is ranked by IATA as one of the world's three most efficient air carriers. With its expanded global coverage, supported by an international network of 77 sales offices, EL AL offers incomparable Israeli hospitality, a friendly and personalized touch that makes time fly and makes EL AL more than just a convenient mode of travel.

With our unique combination of amenities and advantages, which cater to international tastes, making EL AL has become a preferred global gateway to every corner of the world.

Throughout the Years


September 1948

EL AL's inaugural flight brings the country's first president, Chaim Weizman, home from Geneva.

1950 – 1956
EL AL carries 160,000 immigrants to Israel from Yemen, Iran, and India as part of Operation Magic Carpet and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.

June 1961
First nonstop New York/Tel Aviv flight on a Boeing 707 sets the world record for longest nonstop commercial flight covering 5,760 statute miles in 9 hours, 33 minutes.

April 1980
First EL AL flight to Cairo

1984 March
EL AL records the first international Boeing 767 flight - Montreal/Tel Aviv.

May 1988
EL AL operates its longest nonstop flight in history: Los Angeles/Tel Aviv: 7,000 statute miles in 13 hours, 41 minutes.

January 1990
Historic flight to Moscow

May 24,1991
An EL AL Boeing 747 airlifts a record-breaking 1,087 passengers - Ethiopian Jews flying from Addis Ababa to Israel as part of Operation Solomon.

June 1996
First flight to Amman

March 2000
Maiden flight of EL AL Boeing 777

June 2003
Going public – As part of the airline's privatization process, the airline and the State of Israel publish a prospectus on May 30, 2003 offering the company's stocks and stock options for sale. In early June 2003 the company goes public and its stocks are registered for trading on the Tel Aviv Exchange.

June 2004
The airline ceases to be a government company – After the purchase of stocks and exercise of options by the public, the State's holdings in the company declined to less than 50% and the airline ceases to be a government company, becoming a mixed company (as defined in the Law of Government Companies).

January 2005
Airline control is transferred to private ownership – Following the exercise of additional options, on December 23, 2004 the holdings of Knafaim-Arkia Holdings Ltd. rise to 40% of the shares issued by the airline, and on January 6, 2005, following a decision taken at a meeting of stockholders convened at Knafaim's request, most of the members of the Board of Directors are replaced. As a result, control of the airline is transferred to Knafaim.

March 2005
New CEO – Following the resignation in January 2005 of EL AL President Amos Shapira, on March 10, 2005, Haim Romano assumes the post of EL AL CEO. Two months later, changes are made in the organizational structure of the airline.

September 2005
EL AL 2010 Strategic Plan is launched – On September 20, 2005, the EL AL Board of Directors approves the airline's strategic plan for the next five years and the principles of its implementation. The main objectives of the plan include a significant improvement in the commercial results of the company by 2010. The plan includes a list of improvements in the passengers' flight experience, fostering operational excellence, innovation and commercial initiative, fleet renewal and improvements in Cargo and Maintenance as well as nurturing human resources. For details, see the airline's periodical report for 2005.

July 2006
The Second Lebanon War breaks out, continuing till mid-August. The war has a substantial effect on traffic to and from Israel. During this year EL AL continues implementation of the EL AL 2010 Strategic Plan, adjusting to the new developments in Israel’s political, economic and security situation, including the Second Lebanon War and its influence on passenger traffic, the continued rise in the cost of diesel fuel and increased competition.

July 2007
EL AL receives two new Boeing 777-200 aircraft, equipped with the most advanced seats and entertainment systems of their kinds and also entered other agreements for purchasing and leasing additional planes.

December 2007
Codeshare agreement signed with American Airlines, offering passengers the opportunity for continuation flights to more than 20 central destinations in the USA.
In 2007 EL AL distributes dividends to its stockholders, for the first time.

2008
During 2008, the airline purchases another Boeing 747-400 aircraft, leases two 737-800 planes and signs agreements for the purchase of four new 777-200 aircraft from Boeing.

August 2010
EL AL enters Israel’s domestic flight market with scheduled flights to Eilat.

May 2011
EL AL and the Russian Siberia Airlines (S7) announce a code share agreement, enabling EL AL passengers to fly to 9 additional central destinations in Russia.

EL AL names first woman captain, Smadar Shechter.

July 2011
Sixth Boeing 747-400 joins the EL AL fleet. 

August 2011
In cooperation with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s soldiers, EL AL adopts paratrooper Brigade 202.

September 2011
EL AL signs cooperative agreement with the Canadian WestJet Airlines, enabling continuation flights from Toronto to/from 30 destinations in Canada, the USA and the Caribbean Islands.

May 2012
EL AL presents the new “EL AL Upgrade” service, a new and convenient system for upgrading to premium Classes, purchasing preferred seats in Economy Class and more.

EL AL presents Economy Class Plus – a new, improved Economy Class section with more comfortable seats, greater seat recline, more legroom and other extras.

November 2012
Boeing 757 aircraft retire from EL AL service after 25 years of operation.

December 2012
The popular tourism magazine, Travel & Leisure, selects EL AL as one of the 20 leading airlines in the world.

An e-cockpit system based on Tablet computers went into service for EL AL pilots, replacing 40 kilos of paperwork filled out by the pilots and making map and document updates easier and more accessible.

EL AL's website offers an EL AL Vacations interface for purchasing various travel products such as hotels, insurance, car rentals, etc., thus expanding the airline’s services to customers and making them all available in one place.

EL AL wins the Effie award for its “Fly the Way You Like” campaign, illustrating the various services that can be completed on the website.

The EL AL Matmid Frequent Flyer Club is named the Best Frequent Flyer Club of airlines in the Middle East.

April 2013
EL AL signs an agreement with the Fimi Investment Fund. Fimi joins EL AL's control core in return for an investment in the airline.

Israel Travel – Information