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El Al - Timeline Highlights

(1948 - 2020)

September 29-30, 1948: First Israeli-registered civil aircraft carries President Chaim Weizmann and his wife Vera home from Geneva to Israel.

October 1948: First non-scheduled flight from Tel Aviv to Paris.

November 15, 1948: EL AL became incorporated as EL AL Israel Airlines, Ltd.

January 1949: Start of Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of almost 47,000 Yemenite Jews and 3,000 Habbanim Jews from the Arabian Peninsula to Israel.

July 31, 1949: First scheduled flight, Tel Aviv to Paris.

December 18, 1949: First scheduled service to Rome and Zurich.

December 22, 1949: First scheduled flight to London with a stopover in Rome.

May 1950 – December 1951: Operation Ezra & Nehemia, the airlift of 113,000 Iraqi immigrants to Israel.

June 18, 1950: First trans-Atlantic charter flight from Tel Aviv to New York.

July 5, 1950: First scheduled flight to Vienna.

October 29, 1950: First scheduled service to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Early 1951: First scheduled flight to Athens, Grhttps://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/table-of-contents-greeceeece.

March 1, 1951: First scheduled service to Istanbul, Turkey.

April 29, 1951: EL AL inaugurates regular scheduled service between Tel Aviv and New York.

March 5, 1956: First scheduled service to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

March 8, 1956: First scheduled flights to Brussels, Belgium.

October 29, 1956: Sinai War erupts. All airlines (except EL AL) cancel flights to/from Israel.

December 18-19, 1957: New EL AL Britannia aircraft flies longest flight by any commercial airline, from New York to Tel Aviv in 14 hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 645 km/h.

January 8, 1958: An EL AL Britannia broke the world record for speed with a flight time of 7 hours and 44 minutes on the nonstop New York/London route.

March 25, 1958: First scheduled service to Munich, West Germany.

June 15, 1961: Three world records were established on the New York/Tel Aviv route, the fastest flight, the first nonstop service and the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight.  

June 11, 1962: First scheduled service to Frankfurt, West Germany.

June 5, 1967: Six-Day War erupts between Israel and Egypt/Syria/Jordan. As in 1948 and 1956, every airline except EL AL immediately stopped flying into and out of Israel.

April 1, 1968: First scheduled service to Geneva, Switzerland.

May 7, 1968: First scheduled service to Romania.

March 31, 1971: First scheduled service to Marseille, France (replacing Nice).

June 2, 1971: Takes possession of first of three new EL AL Boeing 747-200B aircraft.   

April 29, 1973: Began the only scheduled nonstop service from Tel Aviv to New York.

October 6, 1973: Yom Kippur War breaks out and only EL AL flies to/from Israel.

January 15, 1974: Lod Airport in Israel is renamed in memory of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.

Mid-1979: EL AL introduces the popular night flight LY001 from Israel to New York (JFK).

March 3, 1980: First scheduled service to Cairo, Egypt.

Early 1980: Business Class is introduced and named “King Solomon.”

August 1983: First scheduled flight to Madrid, Spain.

March 26, 1984: Receives first 767-200ER aircraft, and operates first twin-engine scheduled passenger flight to cross the North Atlantic.

June 17, 1984: First scheduled flight to Los Angeles, California.

April 2, 1986: First scheduled service to Toronto, Canada.

May 1988: Record-setting longest nonstop EL AL flight on the Los Angeles/Tel Aviv route, approximately 7000 miles, in 13 hours and 41 minutes.

March 13, 1989: First scheduled service to Stockholm, Sweden.

March 27, 1989: First scheduled flight to Budapest, Hungary.

March 28, 1989: First scheduled flight to Warsaw, Poland.

January 1, 1990: Beginning of Operation Exodus, the airlift of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to Israel.

September 4, 1990: First scheduled service to Berlin, Germany.

January 17, 1991: Gulf War breaks out. EL AL becomes only airline flying passengers into Israel.

May 24, 1991: Operation Solomon, the secret rescue of close to 15,000 Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Israel. One of EL AL’s 747s carries 1,087 passengers – a world record that still stands.

June 25, 1991: First scheduled service to Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic).

September 3-4, 1992: First scheduled flight to Beijing, China.

March 31, 1993: First scheduled flight to Barcelona, Spain.

December 9, 1993: First scheduled service to Mumbai, India and to Bangkok, Thailand.

June 19, 1994: First scheduled service from Newark, New Jersey, to Tel Aviv.

October 5, 1994: First scheduled service to Hong Kong.

April 1995: First scheduled service to Milan, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia.

June 24, 1995: First airline to operate scheduled nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

April 7, 2002: EL AL introduces EL AL PLATINUM, its new premium quality business class service.

June 2004: After purchases of EL AL stock by the public, the Government of Israel’s holdings decline to less than 50%.

November 2004: New modern Terminal 3 opens at Ben Gurion Airport.

December 2004: Carries relief assistance to Indonesia and Sri Lanka following the tsunami catastrophe.

January 6, 2005: Privatization of airline completed, as new Board of Directors appointed with Prof. Israel (Izzy) Borovich becoming Chairman.

March 10, 2005: Haim Romano appointed President of EL AL.

September 2005: Sends 90 tons of relief assistance to Little Rock, Arkansas to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

September 20, 2005: Adopts new five-year plan, called EL AL 2010, aimed to significantly enhance the passenger’s flight experience as well as the airline’s commercial results.

July/ August 2007: Accepts two new state-of-the-art Boeing 777 aircraft and (as with all EL AL aircraft) are named after Israeli cities, Sderot and Kiryat Shmona.

July 2008: Code share agreement launched with American Airlines, offering flight options from 25 additional cities in the USA to Israel.

August 2010: EL AL’s entry into Israel's domestic flight market, with regular flights to Eilat.

2012: Introduced an interface to allow customers to purchase many travel services, such as hotels, travel insurance and car rental in one place.

September 2014: introduced FLY CARD, its branded credit card.

June 2015: Inaugurated direct flights to Boston.

August 2015: Announced fleet renewal program and acquisition of Dreamliner aircraft – the most advanced planes in the world.

April 2016: Launched “air cruise” offering cruise packages including flights to EL AL destinations.

July 2016: Installed Internet on its first aircraft.

November 2017: Launched direct flights to Miami.

November 2018: Launched direct flights to San Francisco.

September 1, 2020: Flight to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever direct flight from Israel to an Arab Gulf country. This was also the first Israeli plane allowed to fly through Saudi airspace. 

October 6, 2020: Eli Rozenberg, the 26-year-old son of millionaire U.S. businessman Kenny Rozenberg, took over EL AL after paying $75 million to save the airline, which was in perilous financial shape as a result of the decline in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


Sources: EL AL;
Marcy Oster, “Eli Rozenberg, 26-year-old son of millionaire US businessman, takes control of El Al airlines,” JTA, (October 6, 2020).