Press Room
A Look Back At Some Historic Highlights

New York, NY – November 15, 2013 – EL AL Israel Airlines is proudly celebrating its 65th anniversary of when the airline was officially incorporated (on November 15, 1948). Merely a vision in 1948, EL AL is today one of the most well-respected global carriers and is honored to maintain the role as Israel’s national airline. Having both been established in 1948, EL AL and the State of Israel have evolved together, serving as a bridge in uniting Israel with the outside world.

In September of 1948, the new State of Israel wanted to bring President Chaim Weizmann home from a meeting in Geneva in an Israeli aircraft. Improvising, an Israeli Air Force aircraft was converted to a civilian plane, the pilots and an in-flight crew were recruited from the Israeli Air Force, a sofa and other fine furnishings were borrowed and Kosher food was ordered from a nearby restaurant. As the airline needed a name, it was decided to call it “EL AL,” which was taken from the book of the Hebrew prophet Hosea, meaning to the skies. The name EL AL was painted on the aircraft, as was an Israeli flag on the tail.

EL AL Historical Highlights that shaped the USA/Israel route and just a few of many significant moments:

  • November 15, 1948 (65 years ago) – EL AL is incorporated with its “shareholders” being the Israeli government and Jewish-owned organizations in Israel.
  • January 1949 - Operation Magic Carpet begins airlifting Yemenites to Israel.
  • May 1950 - Operation Ali Baba begins airlifting Iraqis to Israel. (photo above)
  • June 1950 - First trans-Atlantic charter flight from Tel Aviv to New York (via Rome, Paris, Shannon, and Gander, Newfoundland).
  • April 1951 – Inaugural scheduled commercial flight to New York. EL AL becomes the first airline outside of Europe and North America to operate regular scheduled trans-Atlantic service. (photo above)
  • December 1957 - EL AL's new turbojet Britannia aircraft operated the longest nonstop flight by any commercial airline (during a trial run) on the New York/Tel Aviv route with a flying time of 14 hours and 46 minutes, at an average speed of 645 km/h.
  • June 1961 - On EL AL's maiden scheduled flight from New York to Tel Aviv, utilizing a new jet Boeing 707 aircraft, three world records were established: the fastest flight (9 hours 33 minutes), the first regular scheduled nonstop service on this route and the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight (5,760 miles). (photo above)
  • June 1971 - First Boeing 747 service on the Tel Aviv/London/New York route.
  • April 1973 - First airline to schedule nonstop service from Tel Aviv to JFK Airport (previously called Idlewild), establishing a new record for the longest duration on a nonstop civil air route.
  • June 1984 - First scheduled service from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles.
  • January 1990 - Operation Exodus begins with flights to Moscow to airlift hundreds of thousands of Soviets to Israel.
  • May 1991 – Operation Solomon began with the airlift of Ethiopians from Addis Ababa to Israel. One 747 carried 1,087 passengers, a world record that still stands.
  • June 1994 - First scheduled service to Newark International Airport from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.

1950s - Abba Eban, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. & UN and Israel’s Foreign Minister, arrives at Idlewild Airport (now JFK) on a Constellation aircraft. 1950s - Golda Meir, Israel’s first and the world’s third female Prime Minister about to board a Lockheed Constellation aircraft. Prime Minister Meir was an EL AL frequent flyer. * 1951 – Iraqi airlift upon landing at Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport).
1961 - EL AL crew on the first Boeing 707 jet service from New York to Tel Aviv. This is the first nonstop scheduled flight on the route. 1973 - Russian immigrants arriving in Israel on an EL AL 747 jumbo jet (photo from Israel Government Press Office). 1951 – Welcome reception honoring EL AL’s first scheduled flight to the U.S., hosted by the City of New York at Idlewild Airport (now JFK).

Publish Date 26/11/2013