Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL), trading as
El Al (Hebrew:
אל על, "To the Skies" or "Skywards", Arabic: إل-عال),
is the flag carrier of Israel. Since its inaugural flight from
Tel Aviv in September 1948, the airline has grown to serve
over 50 destinations, operating scheduled domestic and international
services and cargo flights within Israel, and to Europe, Middle East,
Americas, Africa, and the Far East, from its main base in Ben Gurion
El Al is the only commercial airline to equip its planes with missile
defense systems, and is considered one of the world's most secure
airlines, thanks to its stringent security procedures, both on the
ground and on board its aircraft. Although it has been the
target of many attempted hijackings and terror attacks, only one El Al
flight has ever been hijacked -with no fatalities.
As Israel's national airline,
El Al has played an important role in
humanitarian rescue efforts, airlifting Jews from other countries to
Israel, setting the world record for the most passengers on a
commercial aircraft (single plane record of 1,122 passengers on a 747)
Operation Solomon when 14,500 Jewish refugees were transported from
Ethiopia in 1991.
El Al offers only kosher in-flight meals, and does not fly passengers
on the Jewish
Shabbat or religious holidays.
El Al operated an all-Boeing fleet of 38 aircraft, flying
over 4 million passengers, and employed a staff of 6,056 globally. The
company's revenues for 2016 were $2.04 billion, totalling losses of
$80.7 million compared to a profit of $57 million in 2010.
1.1 Early years
1.2 Expansion in the 1960s
1.3 Late 1960s hijacking attempts
1.4 The 1970s and 1980s
1.6 21st century
2 Company affairs and identity
2.3 Business trends
3.2 Sun d'Or
3.5 Borenstein Caterers
3.6 Superstar Holidays
4.1 Onboard missile defense systems
4.2 Airport security measures
4.3 Flight security measures
5.1 Security controversy and passenger profiling
5.2 Treatment of female passengers
5.3 Other events
7.1 Current fleet
7.2 Former fleet
8.1 Frequent flyer program
8.4 In Flight Entertainment
9 Accidents and incidents
El Al employees
10.3 Flight attendants
11 See also
14 External links
Lockheed Constellation (1951)
In September 1948, Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, attended
a conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Weizmann was scheduled to fly
Israel in an Israeli government aircraft, but due to an
embargo imposed on
Israel at the time, this was not possible. An
C-54 military transport aircraft was instead converted into a
civilian plane to transport Weizmann home. The aircraft was painted
with the logo of the "El Al/
Israel National Aviation Company" and
fitted with extra fuel tanks to enable a non-stop flight from Geneva
to Israel. It departed from Ekron Air Base on 28 September, and
Israel the next day. After the flight, the aircraft was
repainted and returned to military use.
The airline was incorporated and became Israel's national flag carrier
on 15 November 1948, although it used leased aircraft until February
1949, when two unpressurized DC-4s were purchased from American
Airlines. The acquisition was funded by the government of Israel, the
Jewish Agency, and other Jewish organizations. The first plane arrived
Lod Airport (later renamed Ben Gurion) on 3 April 1949. Aryeh
Pincus, a lawyer from South Africa, was elected head of the company.
The first international flight, from
Tel Aviv to Paris, with a
refueling in Rome, took place on 31 July 1949. By the end of
1949, the airline had flown passengers to
London and Johannesburg. A
regular service to
London was inaugurated in the middle of 1950. Later
El Al acquired Universal Airways, which was owned by South
African Zionists. A state-run domestic airline,
Airlines, was founded in which
El Al had a 50% stake.[when?]
Curtiss Commando freight aircraft of El Al
El Al's cargo service was inaugurated in 1950 and initially relied on
Curtiss C-46 Commando
Curtiss C-46 Commando aircraft. The same aircraft
type was used also for passengers transportation in certain
routes. The same year the airline initiated charter
services to the United States, followed by scheduled flights soon
From its earliest days the operation of the airline in keeping with
Jewish tradition has been a source of friction; when the Israeli prime
David Ben-Gurion was forming his first coalition, the
religious parties would not join unless Ben-Gurion promised that El Al
would serve only kosher food on its flights and would not fly on the
El Al expanded its activities in
Europe and added new
destinations such as
Vienna and Istanbul,
Athens and Nicosia. On July
31 of 1950 the company celebrated first anniversary of its regular
Kurdish Jewish Immigrants from Iraq leaving
Lod Airport (1951)
Bristol Britannia of
El Al at Farnborough Airport in 1957 just before
delivery to the airline
The airline was involved in several covert operations: In the early
El Al airlifted over 160,000 immigrants to
Israel from India,
Iran, Iraq and Yemen as part of Operation Magic Carpet and Operation
Ezra and Nehemiah. In 1960,
Nazi war criminal
Adolf Eichmann was
captured and flown from Argentina to
Israel on an
El Al aircraft.
In 1955, after using Lockheed Constellations for several years, the
airline purchased two
Bristol Britannia aircraft.
El Al was the second
airline in the world to fly this plane, after the British Overseas
Airways Corporation. In 1958,
El Al ran a newspaper advertisement in
the United States featuring a picture of a "shrunken" Atlantic Ocean
("Starting Dec. 23, the Atlantic Ocean will be 20% smaller") to
promote its non-stop transatlantic flights. This was a bold step:
the airline industry had never used images of the ocean in its
advertising because of the widespread public fear of airline crashes.
The advertisement, which ran only once, proved effective. Within a
year, El Al's sales tripled.
1951 British mechanics residence permit for
El Al worker.
El Al pilot's early Israeli passport.
Expansion in the 1960s
Boeing 720 being serviced at
London Heathrow Airport in 1964.
Despite the purchase of its Britannias and inauguration of non-stop
transatlantic flights the airline remained unprofitable.[further
explanation needed] When Efraim Ben-Arzi took over the company in the
late 1950s, the Britannias were replaced in the next decade by the
Boeing 707 and
Boeing 720 jet airliners.
Boeing 707 at Orly Airport,
The first year that
El Al turned a profit was 1960. That year, more
than 50 percent of the passengers flying into
Israel arrived on El Al
flights. On 15 June 1961, the airline set a world record for the
longest non-stop commercial flight: an
Boeing 707 flew from New
York to Tel Aviv, covering 5,760 miles (9,270 km) in 9 hours and
33 minutes. By this time,
El Al was carrying 56,000 passengers a
year—on a par with
Qantas and ahead of established airlines like
Loftleiðir. In 1961,
El Al ranked 35th in the world in accumulated
passenger distance. El Al's success continued into the late 1960s.
In 1968, regular flights to
Bucharest were inaugurated, and cargo
flights began to
Europe and the United States. The airline also
established a catering subsidiary, Teshet Tourism and Aviation
Services Ltd. All these ventures brought in a profit of $2 million
Late 1960s hijacking attempts
El Al Flight 426
El Al Flight 426 hijacking
El Al experienced the first of many acts of terrorism that
have been perpetrated against the airline. On 23 July, the only
successful hijacking of an
El Al aircraft took place, when a Boeing
707 carrying 10 crew and 38 passengers was taken over by three members
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The
El Al Flight 426, which was en route from Rome to Tel Aviv,
was diverted to
Algiers by the hijackers. Negotiations with the
hijackers lasted for 40 days. Both the hijackers and the passengers,
including 21 Israeli hostages, were eventually freed. The
hijackers were said to have believed Israeli General Ariel Sharon was
on the flight. According to Sarah Levy, it was the Lubavitcher
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson who saved Sharon's life, by
advising him the night before to take a different flight. On 26
December of the same year, two PFLP members attacked an
El Al aircraft
Athens International Airport, killing an Israeli mechanic. The
Israeli Defense Forces
Israeli Defense Forces responded to the incident on 29 December, with
a night-time raid on Lebanon's Beirut Airport, destroying 14 planes on
the ground belonging to
Middle East Airlines, Trans Mediterranean
Airways and Lebanese International Airways. The military action
was responsible for the demise of the LIA, which had most of its fleet
On 18 February 1969, Palestinians attacked an
El Al plane at Zurich
Airport killing the copilot and injuring the pilot. One Palestinian
attacker was killed and others were convicted but later released.
Between September and December of that year, bomb and grenade attacks
El Al offices in Athens, West Berlin, and Brussels.
This wave of violence culminated in the failed hijacking of an El Al
Patrick Arguello and
Leila Khaled on 6 September 1970, as part
of the Dawson's Field hijackings.
The 1970s and 1980s
Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1950–55,
IATA World Air
Transport Statistics 1960–2000
El Al Boeing 707-300B landing at
Zürich Airport, Switzerland
Boeing 767-200 on short final to
London Heathrow Airport in
El Al acquired its first
Boeing 747 jet in 1971. Many[who?] felt it
was a risky purchase given the high cost of the plane and fear of
El Al operations flourished after the purchase. Another
Boeing 747 was delivered in 1973 and was used to start non-stop
Tel Aviv to New York (
El Al - Boeing 707s had flown the
eastward nonstop since around 1961).
In the mid-1970s
El Al began to schedule flights from airports outside
Israel that departed on the Jewish sabbath and landed in Israel
after it had finished. However, the religious parties in the
government were in arms over this, being that this was a violation of
Jewish law and contrary to the agreement signed in the early days of
the state, in which
El Al promised to refrain from flying on the
sabbath. In 1982 the newly re-elected prime minister Menachem Begin,
brought before the Knesset a vote to ban Sabbath flights once again
(it passed by a vote of 58 to 54). Outraged, the secular community
threatened to boycott the airline. In August 1982
El Al workers
blocked Orthodox and
Hassidic Jews from entering the airport.
El Al established a charter subsidiary,
El Al Charter Services
Ltd., later renamed
Sun D'Or International Airlines Ltd. Two years
earlier the airline had suffered its first losses since the late
1950s, largely a product of the global recession. The management
changed three times towards the end of the 1970s, until Itzhak Shander
was named president.[clarification needed] As the political situation
in Iran deteriorated,
El Al began to airlift Jews to Israel. All the
airline's infrastructure in Iran was eventually destroyed. El Al
Cairo were inaugurated in April 1980, following the
Egypt Peace Treaty. In late 1982, after a long period of
labor disputes and strikes,
El Al operations were suspended. The
government appointed Amram Blum to run the company, which lost $123.3
million in the fiscal year ending April 1983.[clarification
needed] The airline also sold its stake in
Arkia at this time.
Operations resumed in January 1983 under receivership. The government
purchased two new
Boeing 737 aircraft and announced plans to acquire
Boeing 767 jets at the cost of $200 million. Within four years,
El Al was profitable again. It broke another record, since then
surpassed, in May 1988 with a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Tel
Aviv, a journey of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) in 13 hours
and 41 minutes.[clarification needed]
Later on, flights to
Yugoslavia were started in 1989.
In January 1990, North
American Airlines began providing feeder
services to El Al's US destinations.
El Al held a 24.9 percent stake
in the airline until selling it back to Dan McKinnon in July 2003. By
El Al was operating a fleet of 20 aircraft, including nine
Boeing 747s, and had begun replacing its aging Boeing 707s with the
Boeing 757. Early that year, following the collapse of the Soviet
El Al inaugurated regular flights to Moscow. No airlifts from
Soviet Union were possible at the time but permission was
granted in 1991. Charter flights commenced in August 1991, with
immigrants also occupying all available seats on El Al's scheduled
routes. In cooperation with Aeroflot,
El Al flew more than 400,000
Jewish immigrants to
Israel within a three-year period.
El Al helped with the airlifting of Ethiopian immigrants from Ethiopia
Operation Solomon in 1991.
On 24 May 1991, an
Boeing 747 cargo plane airlifted a
record-breaking 1,087 Ethiopian Jews from
Addis Ababa to
Israel in the
framework of Operation Solomon. Three babies were born during the
flight. The plane carried twice as many passengers as it was designed
for. In less than 36 hours, 14,500 Ethiopian Jews were flown to
Israel. On 27 April 1994,
El Al received its first Boeing
El Al flights were inaugurated to the Far East[when?] and, in 1995, El
Al signed its first codesharing agreement with American Airlines.
In February 1995, the receivership under which the airline had
technically been operating since 1982 came to an end. In June
El Al recorded its first flight from
Israel to Amman,
El Al recorded US$83.1 million in losses, due to the
resumption of terrorist activities and the government's open skies
policy. To keep its planes flying during this period, El Al
introduced flights "to nowhere": passengers were offered various kinds
of in-flight entertainment as the plane circled the Mediterranean.
One-day shopping trips to
London and visits to religious sites in
Europe were also promoted. In 1997,
El Al opened a
separate cargo division.[clarification needed]
El Al's first
Boeing 777 embarked on its maiden flight in March 2000.
Later that year the controversy over flights on
Shabbat erupted again,
when the airline announced that it was losing US$55 million a year by
grounding its planes on Saturdays. After privatization of the company
began in June 2003, the policy regarding sabbath flights was expected
The first phase of the long-delayed privatization of the company
commenced in June 2003 and by Israel's Government Companies Authority,
headed by Eyal Gabbai. 15 percent of El Al's shares were listed on the
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. By June 2004, 50% of the company had been
sold to the public. By January 2005, a controlling share of the
company had been transferred to Knafaim-
Arkia Holdings Ltd. As of
October 2014, El Al's major shareholders are Knafaim Holdings (36%),
Ginsburg Group (10%) and
Delek Group (10%).
In August 2010,
El Al and
American Airlines signed an agreement to
provide connecting through tickets between
Israel and 61 destinations
in the United States from October 2010, via John F. Kennedy
International Airport in New York.
Company affairs and identity
El Al aircraft at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petakh
El Al's headquarters are located on the grounds of Ben Gurion Airport
in Central District, Israel, near Lod.
During 2005, the airline transported 3.5 million passengers, a rise
from 3.2 million in 2004 and 2.8 million in 2003. 60% of the
airline's passengers are Israeli. In 2006,
El Al posted a $44.6
million loss on revenues of $1.665 billion. The company is facing
four lawsuits, two of which have been approved as class actions, which
could cost the company $176.2 million.[when?]
El Al spends $100
million a year to conform with the airline security measures required
Shin Bet security service. In early 2007,
El Al opened
King David Lounge
King David Lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. New
lounges at Heathrow airport in
London and JFK International airport in
New York had also opened in late 2007.
El Al invested NIS 1 billion in the purchase of two new
Boeing 777-200s that included an updated
El Al decal. The aircraft are
fitted with upgraded seats with adjustable headrests and legrests.
Each seat is equipped with a touch-screen entertainment system. The
first aircraft, named "Sderot", completed its maiden flight from New
Tel Aviv on 26 July 2007. The second, "Kiryat Shmona", was
delivered at the end of August 2007.
After the United States
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration downgraded
Israel's aviation safety rating to 2 in February 2009, an
has warned El Al, as well as competing airlines
Arkia and Israir, that
they may appear on the European blacklist of banned carriers. Giora
Romm, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel, responded to the
claim, stating: "We are in close contact with the Europeans," He
added, "I don't know what the fuss is about. The Europeans' e-mail is
strange. We are doing everything we can to improve security." The
European Union has yet to make an official statement on the
El Al uses the
Amadeus CRS system for reservation,
inventory, check-in and online bookings. In November 2012, the
United States FAA restored Israel's category 1 rating.
El Al has a cargo branch,
El Al Cargo, which became independent in
1997. As the national cargo airline of Israel, it operates between Tel
Aviv, Liege and New York plus ad hoc worldwide charters with one
Boeing 747-200F aircraft. Before 2001, when the Israeli air cargo
market opened up to competition,
El Al Cargo enjoyed a monopoly. Now
its main competition comes from CAL Cargo Air Lines.
As of 2011, the company employs a staff of 6,056 globally and has a
fleet of 37 aircraft. The company's revenues for 2016 were $2.04
billion, totalling losses of $80.7 million compared to a profit of $57
million in 2010.
El Al has
Hebrew language voiceovers and
Arabic language subtitles in
its flight safety videos. And after the first video is finished
another video comes on in English 
The key trends for
Israel Airlines Ltd. are shown below (as at
year ending 31 December):
Currency in Millions of US Dollars
Passenger aircraft, operation revenue
Cargo aircraft, operation revenue
Other revenue and Adjustments revenue
Selling, Administrative, General and Others expenses/revenues
Financing expenses/income, net
Share of the profits of subsidiaries, net of tax
Profit/loss before tax
Profit/loss after tax
Up Boeing 737-800
Main article: Up (airline)
On 26 November 2013,
El Al unveiled its new low cost airline
Up, which commenced operations on 30 March 2014, initially to
Berlin, Budapest, Kiev,
Larnaca and Prague using five Boeing
737-800s transferred from
El Al fleet. Up was founded by its
El Al to be used on some routes to
Europe where it replaced El
Al itself. All flights of Up are operated by El Al, using El Al's call
sign and codes with a four digit number. For flights over two
hours the airline offers a buy on board service.
El Al subsidiary
UP will be shut down by March 2018. All its destinations and fleet
will be reintegrated into the mainline
El Al operations.
In August 2014,
CEO Michael O'Leary foreshadowed the
development of a
Ryanair Israel, connecting
Israel with cities across
Europe. He said an inhibiting factor in the plan was Israeli
authorities protectiveness of
El Al from competition. The
CEO of Up
wishes to recreate the airline business world.
Ovda Airport and
Ben Gurion Airport
Ben Gurion Airport in the winter season
2017/18 from several airports throughout Europe.
Sun d'Or Boeing 757-200
Main article: Sun d'Or
The charter operations of the Group is carried out through Sun D'Or, a
company fully owned by El Al.
Sun D'Or operates as a tourist organizer
for wholesalers and individuals and markets charter and scheduled
flights, both by means of leasing full aircraft capacity to third
parties, or aircraft parts' capacity to a number of partners for
pre-negotiated prices, or by direct sales. Starting from 2011, Sun
D'Or operates as a tourist organizer, while maintaining the "Sun D'Or"
brand for scheduled and charter flights marketed by Sun D'Or. In March
Israel Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced the
suspension of Sun d'Or's operating license effective 1 April 2011. The
CAA based its decision citing non-compliance with Israeli and
international airline management standards, mainly lack of self-owned
planes and crew. Since then,
Sun d'Or no longer operates own
aircraft but utilizes planes from its parent, El Al.
Tamam (a company fully owned by El Al) is mainly engaged in the
production and supply of kosher ready meals to airline companies.
Katit (a company fully owned by El Al) is mainly engaged in the
production and supply of meals to the Company's employees.
The main business of Borenstein, a company (fully owned by El Al)
registered in the U.S. and operating at New York's JFK airport, is the
production and supply of kosher ready meals to airlines and other
Superstar (a company fully owned by El Al) is a tourist wholesaler
that markets tourist package deals to travel agents and passengers,
and sells airline tickets at discounted prices for flights on the
As a prime target for terrorism,
El Al employs stringent security
procedures, both on the ground and on board its aircraft. These
effective, though time-consuming and discriminatory procedures have
won El Al's security reputation. In 2008, the airline was named by
Global Traveler magazine as the world's most secure airline.
Onboard missile defense systems
El Al planes have been fitted with anti-missile counter-measures since
the early 2000s, with the initial system known as Flight
Since the early 2000s,
El Al has been the only commercial airliner to
fit its planes with systems to defend against anti-aircraft missiles.
El Al began to fit some of its planes that fly on more
sensitive routes with an updated missile approach warning system
(MAWS) that employs an infrared missile-tracking camera, an
“infrared (IR), ultra-violet (UV), or radar missile-approach warning
sensor to detect a missile launch in the very early stages of an
attack” and a laser system to act as a counter-measure. In
November 2014, under the Israeli government's SkyShield programme,
Elbit's Commercial Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasures (C-MUSIC)
system was adopted by El Al. "C-MUSIC is one of the biggest and most
complex projects ever undertaken at
Elbit and in Israel".
Airport security measures
At Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, plainclothes agents and fully armed
police or military personnel patrol the premises for explosives,
suspicious behavior, and other threats. Armed security personnel also
El Al terminals overseas. Inside the terminal, passengers and
their baggage are checked by a trained team.
El Al security procedures
require that all passengers be interviewed individually prior to
El Al staff to identify possible security threats.
Passengers are asked questions about their place of origin, the reason
for their trip, their job or occupation, and whether they have packed
their bags themselves.
El Al believes interviewers can spot signs of
At the check-in counter, passengers' passports and tickets are closely
examined. A passport without a sticker from the security checkers will
not be accepted. At passport control passengers' names are checked
against information from the FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence
Service (CSIS), Scotland Yard, Shin Bet, and
Luggage is screened and sometimes hand searched. In addition, bags are
put through a decompression chamber simulating pressures during flight
that could trigger explosives. Even at overseas airports, El Al
security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, even if they
are supervised by government or private security firms.
Flight security measures
Undercover agents (sometimes referred to as sky marshals) carrying
concealed firearms sit among the passengers on every international El
Al flight. Most
El Al pilots are former Israeli Air Force
pilots.[note 1] The cockpits in all
El Al aircraft have double
doors to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. A code is required to
access the doors, and the second door will only be opened after the
first has closed and the person has been identified by the captain or
first officer. Furthermore, there are reinforced steel floors
separating the passenger cabin from the baggage hold.
In April 2013, the Israeli government increased payments to
El Al to
secure 97.5% of the airlines' security costs, ahead of the Open Skies
agreement to take effect in 2014 with the European Union.
Security controversy and passenger profiling
The airline was criticized by Hungarian courts for refusing to search
luggage with the passenger present, acting against Hungarian domestic
laws stipulating that only authorized officials are able to undertake
In 2008, a civil case was brought to the Supreme Court of
the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which alleged that El Al's
practice of ethnic profiling illegally singled out Arab passengers for
tougher treatment. The group had petitioned "for the complete
elimination of racial profiling" by the airline. In 2015, the
court dismissed the petition on procedural grounds, accepting in part
the government's argument "that it could not completely change without
heavily burdening all travelers," but reimbursing the Association for
Civil Rights in
Israel a total of NIS 30,000 for its legal fees, and
finding that the petition "had already gotten security to be less
discriminatory." The court left the door open for a renewed
petition in the future if required.
Treatment of female passengers
In September 2014 it was reported that there have been repeated
incidents where some ultra-Orthodox male passengers refused to sit
next to women passengers, sometimes delaying flights. As result, a
petition was initiated with
Change.org to pressure
El Al to alter
their policy of allowing ultra-Orthodox passengers on flights to
negotiate switching seats. The petition reads: "Why does El Al
Airlines permit female passengers to be bullied, harassed, and
intimidated into switching seats which they rightfully paid for and
were assigned to by
El Al Airlines? One person's religious rights do
not trump another person's civil rights."
Following the incidents, Iris Richman, founder of Jewish Voices
Together, a group created to address issues of religious pluralism in
Israel and the U.S., encouraged passengers to protest this behavior
through the US government, referencing "49 U.S. Code § 40127 –
Prohibitions on discrimination: Persons in Air Transportation."
According to this directive, she wrote, "An air carrier or foreign air
carrier may not subject a person in air transportation to
discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion,
sex or ancestry." Richman contacted the U.S. Department of
Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division, and stated the
department "is willing to investigate any situation where any employee
of a carrier – i.e. a steward/ess – participated in asking someone
to change a seat because of their gender."
In November 2014 Tova Ross in the Forward; disagreed that this is
discrimination of women. She wrote, "...If we [women] want the right
to pray and practice and dress in the ways we see fit, why do we cast
such caustic aspersions on the premise of a man who calmly asks to
change his seat in order for him not to stray from his preferred
religious outlook?"..."A favor for a fellow human being, no matter how
archaic we may deem his beliefs. We are indulging a request that we
may neither understand nor agree with, but if it doesn’t really put
us out, if the flight isn’t full and there is in fact someone who
will easily volunteer to switch seats, then what is everyone’s
colossal problem with the mere premise?" 
El Al said that it would not put a policy in place to handle
situations where male Haredim refuse to sit next to female passengers,
but would instead attempt to satisfy passengers involved in such
incidents on a case by case basis.
In February 2016, an Israeli woman named Renee Rabinowitz filed a
El Al after being involved in an incident where an
ultra-Orthodox man refused to sit next to her on a flight from Newark
International Airport to
Tel Aviv and the flight attendants asked her
to move seats. By her own admission though, she was happy to oblige
after talking to her seatmate. She was however upset that "The flight
attendant treated me as if I was stupid”.
El Al has insisted that
there was no gender discrimination on
El Al flights, that the flight
attendant had made it clear to Ms. Rabinowitz that she was in no way
obligated to move. Much as with any seating issue on flights,
including overweight or disabled passengers, the airline always tries
to find amicable solutions.
In 2013, the media reported that an
El Al flight unprecedentedly
returned to the gate to retrieve an 11-year-old cancer patient, Inbar
Chomsky, who was removed from the flight after she misplaced her
passport. Just before takeoff, her passport was found in another
passenger's backpack, and the crew began to negotiate for the plane to
return and pick up the distressed young traveler on her way to a
summer camp for children with serious illnesses.
El Al released a
statement noting that "planes rarely return to the gate after
departing...but when the passport was found on the plane...a decision
was made and the plane returned to pick up Inbar.”
El Al destinations
El Al destinations.
El Al destinations
Cargo only destinations
Codeshare only destinations
El Al serves destinations on four continents in 31 countries with a
well-developed European network that also takes in important cities in
Russia. The airline serves a number of gateway cities in North America
and has expanded its service to cover central and southeast Asia
(Bangkok, Mumbai) and the
Far East (
Beijing and Hong Kong). However,
El Al's inability to overfly
Saudi Arabian airspace, along with that
of several other Arab countries, has reduced their ability to further
expand their route network in Asia. Saudi Arabia has recently granted
Air India to fly a thrice weekly flight from
Tel Aviv to
New Delhi using
Saudi Arabian airspace. If Saudi Arabia does not allow
El Al to use their airspace,
El Al might lose a large share of their
Asian market due to other airlines having shorter and cheaper flights.
However, the recent contacts between Israeli and Saudi officials may
change the Saudi position. It also offers services to
Africa and Zanzibar.
El Al codeshares with the following airlines:
Swiss International Air Lines
TAP Air Portugal
Boeing 737-800 on short final to
Schiphol Airport in 2012
Boeing 777-200ER at
Don Muang International Airport
Don Muang International Airport in 2005
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at
Ben Gurion Airport
Ben Gurion Airport in September 2017
As of March 2018,
El Al has an all-Boeing fleet composed of the
El Al Fleet
Operated for subsidiary Up until October 2018
Operated for subsidiary Sun d'Or
To be replaced with Boeing 787s by early 2019
To be replaced with Boeing 787s by 2020
Estimated in 2019
First delivery 22 August 2017
El Al Cargo fleet
El Al Boeing 767-200ER
El Al Boeing 747-200B
On November 26, 2012,
El Al retired its last
Boeing 757-200 after 25
years of service. The last
Boeing 767-200ER in the fleet was
retired on September 22, 2013 while the last
Boeing 737-700 was phased
out on May 10, 2016.
El Al began to retire its 747-400 fleet in
Fleet History
Bristol Type 175 Britannia
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
El Al's historic, superseded livery featured a turquoise/navy blue
stripe down the side of the aircraft, and a turquoise tailfin with the
Israel at the top. El Al's logo was featured above the front
run of windows on each side of the plane in the turquoise/navy
scheme. The new livery features a blue stripe with a thick silver
border on the bottom that sweeps across the side of the aircraft near
the wing, disappears over the top of the plane and reappears at the
bottom of the tailfin. The
El Al logo is part of the design, although
it has been changed slightly since then. Most of El Al's aircraft are
named for Israeli cities, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bet Shemesh,
Nazeret, Haifa, and others. The cities' names are located near the
nose of the plane beneath the cockpit windows.
By contrast, El Al's cargo plane livery in the past lacks the painting
of Israel's flag and its airline identity; only a word "Cargo" appears
on the fuselage. Subsequently, the newer cargo plane livery (including
the current Boeing 747-400F) has the airline identity painted but
otherwise it is painted in white.
Economy class in-flight vegan meal
Business class in a Boeing 737–700
Frequent flyer program
Matmid is El Al's present frequent flyer program. King David club
cards (red) were issued 1991. It was re-launched in 2004 following the
merger of El Al's previous frequent flyer programs. It has five tiers:
Matmid, Matmid Silver, Matmid Gold, Matmid Platinum and Matmid TOP
Platinum. Points accumulated in the program entitle members to bonus
tickets, flight upgrades, and discounts on car rentals, hotel stays,
and other products and services. Points are also awarded for travel
with partner airlines, as well as for nights at partner hotels and for
credit card purchases. Matmid points can be collected on most
flights operated by South African Airways, Sun D'Or,
Aeroméxico flights Points are accumulated for any fares
(ex. promotions), and points age—i.e. lose their validity after
three years. To join Matmid, a one-time fee must be paid.
King David Lounge
King David Lounge is the name adopted by
El Al for special airport
lounges that serve the airline's premium class passengers. There are
six King David Lounges worldwide at the key airports at Ben Gurion
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport in New
York, Newark Liberty International Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
London Heathrow Airport and Los Angeles International
Airport. All King David Lounges offer drinks, snacks, newspapers
and magazines (Israeli and foreign), while some lounges also offer
Wi-Fi internet access. The
King David Lounge
King David Lounge at Terminal 3 at Tel
Aviv-Ben Gurion airport is equipped with a telephone, shower
facilities and a spa; it has a separate section for first-class
El Al offers four types of classes on its planes:
First class -
Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777-200ER. First class is in a
2-2 configuration and has a pitch of 79’ and 23’ wide.
Business class - on all planes (type of business seat changes with
type of aircraft).
Business class on the 787 is in a 1-2-1
configuration while the 777 and 747 are in 2-3-2 business class
configuration, and the 767 in a 2-2-2 business class configuration.
Business class on the 747,767,777 has a seat pitch of 55’ and
19.5’ wide. On the 787 it has a pitch of 78’ and 23’ wide. On
the 737-800,900 business class has a seat pitch of 44’ and 20.5’
Premium economy class
Premium economy class - Served on Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 747-400
Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 787 planes. While on the Boeing 747, 777
and 767 the premium economy class is in the same configuration as
economy class. on the 787 it is in a 2-3-2 configuration, and offers
more amenities, services, storage and legroom. Premium economy has a
seat pitch of 36’ and 18’ wide. On the 787 there is a seat pitch
of 37’ and 18.5’ wide.
Economy class - All planes.
Economy class has a seat pitch of 32’
and 18’ wide.
In Flight Entertainment
Personal AVOD screens are provided on all Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing
747-400 and Boeing 787s. Streaming with iPads and smartphones by an El
Al app is provided on the Boeing 767-300ER,
Boeing 737-900ER and some
Boeing 737-800, where there are no personal AVOD screen.
Accidents and incidents
Monument for the Bijlmer disaster, Amsterdam of 4 October 1992. The
monument was designed by architect Herman Hertzberger together with
On 24 November 1951, a
DC-4 on a cargo flight from
Tel Aviv to
Amsterdam crashed on approach to
Zürich Airport, killing 6 crew
members.[further explanation needed]
On 27 July 1955, a
Lockheed Constellation operating
El Al Flight 402,
was shot down by two
Bulgarian Air Force
Bulgarian Air Force fighter jets over
Blagoevgrad, near Sofia, Bulgaria, after it strayed into Bulgarian
airspace in rough weather. All 58 passengers and crew were
On 23 July 1968,
El Al Flight 426
El Al Flight 426 operated by a Boeing 707-358C en
Tel Aviv via Rome, was hijacked by three members
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine shortly after
take-off from Rome-Fiumicino airport and forcibly diverted to Algiers.
The hijacking ended after 40 days and is considered to be the only
successful hijacking involving an
El Al jet.
On 18 February 1969, an
Boeing 707 was attacked at Zürich
airport. An Israeli trainee pilot was killed, with another eight
people being wounded. In a firefight involving security personnel, one
hijacker was killed, while the others were arrested. The hijackers
were later put on trial in Winterthur,
Switzerland but released
following the hijacking of a Swissair aircraft one year later.
On 6 September 1970,
El Al Flight 219 from
Tel Aviv to New York, with
a stopover in Amsterdam, was the target of an attempted hijacking by
Leila Khaled and
Patrick Argüello after taking off from Amsterdam.
The hijacking was meant to be one of the Dawson's Field hijackings,
but it was thwarted by the pilot and on-board air marshall. Argüello
was killed in this incident.
On 16 August 1972, a bomb exploded in the luggage compartment of El Al
Flight 444 shortly after takeoff from Rome. The plane returned to Rome
safely and no casualties were recorded.
On 13 January 1975, several men, including Carlos the Jackal, made an
unsuccessful attempt to destroy an
El Al airliner at Orly Airport. The
men tried again on January 17, also without success.
On 27 December 1985, after several failed attempts to attack El Al
aircraft, guerrillas of the
Fatah Revolutionary Council attacked El Al
ticket counters at Rome-Fiumicino and Vienna-Schwechat airports,
killing 18 people.
A terrorist attack was foiled on 18 April 1986 in what became known as
the Hindawi Affair. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne-Marie Murphy was
about to board an
El Al flight at London's Heathrow airport when her
bag was found to contain three pounds of plastic explosives. These had
been planted by her fiancé Nezar Hindawi, who was booked on a
different flight. Hindawi was jailed for 45 years, the longest
sentence (short of a life sentence) ever delivered by a British
court. There was evidence that Syrian officials were involved and
as a result, Britain cut off diplomatic relations with Syria.
On 4 October 1992,
El Al Flight 1862
El Al Flight 1862 operated by a Boeing 747-200F
cargo plane, crashed into two highrise apartment buildings (Kruitberg
and Groeneveen) in Bijlmermeer, a neighborhood of Amsterdam. The crash
was caused by an engine detaching from the aircraft, knocking a second
engine off the aircraft as well. The three crew members, one
passenger, and 39 people on the ground were killed.
On 4 July 2002,
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet shot six Israelis at El Al's
ticket counter at
Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport before he was shot
and killed by an
El Al security guard. Two of the victims died.
Although not linked to any terrorist group, Hadayet, an Egyptian,
espoused anti-Israeli views and was opposed to US policy in the Middle
East. The US
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation classified the
shooting as a terrorist act, one of the few on US soil since the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
On 17 November 2002, Tawfiq Fukra, a twenty-three-year-old Israeli
Arab, attempted to hijack an
El Al flight from
Tel Aviv to Istanbul.
He was reportedly armed with a pocket knife, and attempted to break
into the cockpit in order to fly the aircraft back to
Israel and crash
it into a building. He was apprehended by on-board security
El Al employees
El Al flight attendant in the 1950s
Mordechai Hod - Commander of the
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force during the 1967
Six-Day War, served as
CEO 1977 -1979
Eliezer Shkedi - Former commander of the Israeli Air Force, served as
CEO 2010 - 2014
Pinchas Ben-Porat – Palmach Member, one of Israel's first aviators
Giora Epstein –
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force pilot, flying ace
Eliezer Cohen – politician
Yoav Kish – politician
Abie Nathan – humanitarian and peace activist
Gali Atari – singer and actress
Janna Gur – food writer, editor and cook book author
Miki Haimovich – anchorwoman, television presenter
Adir Miller – actor, screenwriter and comedian
Sara Netanyahu – wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Alma Zack – actress
Transport in Israel
^ Most, but not all, El Al's pilots are former pilots of the Israeli
Air Force. An article dedicated to an
El Al female captain can be
found at With Yom Haatzmaut Festivities, a Gender Barrier Is Broken
– The Sisterhood – Forward.com
^ "TASE Site – Profile". Tase.co.il. 2010-01-07. Retrieved
^ United States. "ELAL
Israel Airlines LTD". Seabury APG. Retrieved
Israel special –
El Al thrives despite high fuel
costs and competition". Flightglobal. 11 February 2008. Archived from
the original on 25 May 2014.
^ a b "EL AL named most secure airline". The Jerusalem Post.
2008-02-06. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
El Al secure because it must be". CNN. 2002-07-05. Retrieved
^ Kohn, David (February 11, 2009). "The Safest Airline". CBSnews.
^ a b Walt, Vivienne (January 10, 2001). "Unfriendly skies are no
match for El Al". USA Today. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
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original on 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
^ a b Brinkley, Joel (May 26, 1991). "Ethiopian Jews and Israelis
Airlift Is Completed". The New York Times.
^ Orme, William A. Jr. (March 5, 1999). "
El Al at a Turning Point; A
Mirror of Israel's Divisions Prepares to Go 49% Public". The New York
Times. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
^ Wagner, Matthew (2006-12-06). "Another report of non-kosher food on
El Al plane". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
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^ a b "El Al, Major financial and operational statistics for 2011"
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^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "
El Al Company History". Answers.com
Premium Partner. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
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El Al flies to rescue throughout the
world". Jewish Bulletin. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
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from the original on 2001-02-22. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
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2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
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Israeli Leadership. The Toby Press. p. 599.
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El Al flies olim on first direct
charter". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
El Al Airlines posts $15 million profits". Jewish Bulletin Online.
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^ "Shareholders". El Al. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
^ Friedman, Ron (13 August 2010). "
El Al signs agreement with American
Airlines". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
^ "Financial Data". El Al. Archived from the original on November 29,
2006. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
El Al thrives despite high fuel costs
and competition". Flight International. Flight Global. 2008-02-11.
^ Standard & Poor's
El Al Income Statement Data Archived May 17,
2008, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Blumenkratz, Zohar (2007-06-07). "What irks
El Al passengers".
Haaretz. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved June
^ Coren, Ora (June 21, 2007). "Business in Brief- Transport minister:
El Al to be compensated for surrendering its monopoly". Haaretz.
^ Zimmerman, Dana (2007-01-16). "
El Al opens King David lounge in
Paris". Ynet News. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
^ "El Al's Ace in the Hat: The Boeing 777". infolive.tv. 2007-07-31.
^ "Airlines race to prevent European flight ban". 2009-02-27. Archived
from the original on 2011-09-16.
^ "Amadeus Press release".
^ "After 4 years,
Category 1 aviation safety
^ Manji, Irshad. The Trouble with Islam Today. Macmillan, March 16,
2005. p. 73. "The flight's safety video, though narrated in Hebrew,
had Arabic subtitles." Retrieved from
Google Books on November 4,
2012. ISBN 0312327005, 9780312327002.
^ "Financial Information". El Al. 2015. Retrieved January 21,
^ "UP livery on a 737–800". Retrieved 2014-07-18.
^ a b c d Elis, Niv (2013-11-26). "
El Al starting low cost airline".
Jpost.com. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
^ "Menu" (Archive). Up. p. 5/5. Retrieved on 21 August 2014.
^ a b ch-aviation.com - Israel's
El Al to drop UP budget brand 4
^ "Israeli market beckons Ryanair". Irish Sun.com. 25 August 2014.
Retrieved 25 August 2014.
Sun d'Or has operating licence withdrawn".
^ Vause, John (24 May 2004). "Missile defense for
El Al fleet". CNN.
^ Williams, Dan (February 16, 2006). "
El Al Fits Fleet with
Anti-Missile System". Reuters. Archived from the original on July 28,
2012. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
^ "IAI/Elta's "Flight Guard" Commercial Aircraft Protection System
Funded". Israeli Aerospace Industries. 2003-09-08.
El Al Airlines installs anti-missile systems on passenger
aircraft". Haaretz. 2006-02-15. Retrieved 2007-05-07. El Al, Israel's
national carrier and largest airline
^ Ferran, Lee (July 23, 2014). "Israeli Airline With Missile Defenses
Israel When US Carriers Won't". ABC News.
Israel adopts C-MUSIC missile protection system for national
airliners Gareth Jennings,
London – IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, 07
^ "Israeli-style security might have averted hijackings". USA Today.
2001-09-13. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
El Al Decompression Chamber". Simcoe Engineering Group Limited.
Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved
2016-05-15. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
El Al wants to do own bag screening at Newark". USA Today.
Associated Press. 12 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 July
El Al sets security standards". BBC News. 2002-07-05. Retrieved
^ a b "Model for air travel security may be El Al". CNN. 2001-09-26.
Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
^ Silver, Eric (2006-08-15). "Flying under the eagle eyes of El Al's
famed high security". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2006-08-15.
El Al Security Payments To End Strike Over Open
Skies Deal". The Jewish Week. 2013-04-22. Archived from the original
on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
^ Tarek, Ibrahim (December 2006). "Suspected Citizens: Racial
Profiling Against Arab and non Jewish Passengers by Israeli Airlines
and Airports" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-01.
^ Rights Group Says Airport's Racial Profiling Violates Israeli Law,
Associated Press (March 20, 2008).
^ a b c Yonah Jeremy Bob, High Court Rules on Racial Profiling at
Ben-Gurion Airport: Court dismisses a civil rights petition, but
leaves the door open for future cases, Jerusalem Post (March 11,
^ "Petition asks
El Al to get tough on ultra-Orthodox 'bullying and
harassing' of female passengers". Haaretz.com. 29 September 2014.
Retrieved 24 April 2015.
^ "Ultra-Orthodox Jews delay
El Al flight, refusing to sit near
women". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
^ "Ultra-Orthodox Jews refuse to sit next to women, delay flight". New
York Post. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
El Al 'gender discrimination' may violate U.S. law, claims N.Y.
activist rabbi". Haaretz. 1 October 2014. Retrieved 24 April
^ "About Us". The Forward. Retrieved 2016-06-16.
^ "Don't Judge Hasidic Seat-Switchers". The Forward. Retrieved
El Al won't put in place policy on ultra-Orthodox men who refuse to
sit by women". Haaretz. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 24 April
^ "She Was Asked to Switch Seats. Now She's Charging
El Al With
Sexism". New York Times. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March
El Al lawsuit could set gender discrimination precedent". Y Net
News. 27 February 2016.
^ Berman, Lazar (15 August 2013). "Plane turns back to get cancer
patient". Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 15 July
El Al European Route Map". Airline Route Maps. Retrieved
El Al Worldwide Route Map". Airline Route Maps. Retrieved
^ "Profile on El Al". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the
original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
^ Liu, Jim (22 September 2017). "Aerolineas Argentinas /
El Al begins
codeshare partnership from Sep 2017". Retrieved 22 September
Aerolíneas Argentinas y
Israel Airlines anuncian acuerdo de
código compartido". Aerolineas Argentinas S.A. Retrieved 22 September
^ Liu, Jim (7 September 2017). "
El Al /
Qantas codeshare partnership
begins in Sep 2017". Routesonline. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
^ Liu, Jim (10 November 2017). "
El Al /
TAP Air Portugal
TAP Air Portugal begins
codeshare service from Oct 2017". Routesonline. Retrieved 10 November
^ Liu, Jim (4 October 2017). "
El Al / THAI expands codeshare service
from Oct 2017". Routesonline. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October
2017): 18. access-date= requires url= (help)
Israel Travel — Our Fleet". Retrieved 2017-10-09.
Boeing 737-800 seating map,
El Al website
^ "EL AL cancels low-cost brand UP, plans to implement new tourist
class format". JOL. 4 January 2018.
^ a b "El Al's plans to buy 787s will allow fleet renewal, perhaps
expansion. Hainan, Cathay to Tel Aviv?". CAPA Centre for Aviation.
2015-08-10. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
Boeing 777 seating map,
El Al website Archived 2017-03-14 at the
^ "Rolls-Royce and
El Al sign 787 Trent 1000 service deal".
Flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
El Al Enters Dreamliner Club". Airliner World (October 2017):
10. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "EL AL Retiring the Last of its
Boeing 757 Aircraft from Service
EL AL Airlines". Elal.co.il. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
^ ch-aviation.com –
El Al ends B737-700 operations 10 May 2016
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^ "Matmid Club" (PDF). Superstar Travel. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
El Al Partner Airlines". El Al. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
El Al King David Lounge". El Al. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
King David Lounge
King David Lounge Spa". El Al. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
^ "ASN Aircraft accident description Douglas
DC-4 4X-ADN —
Zürich-Kloten". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
^ "Through the Curtain". Time. 1955-08-08. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
^ "ASN Aircraft accident description Lockheed L-149 Constellation
4X-AKC — Petrich". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved
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from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved 2007-10-20.
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^ Ginsburg, Mitch (24 March 2014). "How to thwart a gunman at 29,000
feet, by the only pilot who ever did". Times of Israel. Retrieved 10
^ Ensalaco, Mark (2008). Middle Eastern terrorism: from Black
September to September 11. University of Pennsylvania Press.
p. 80. ISBN 978-0-8122-4046-7.
^ Kushner, Harvey W. (2003). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. London: Sage
Publications. p. 322. ISBN 0761924086. Retrieved 5 October
^ Booth, Jenny (2004-10-13). "
El Al bomber too dangerous to release,
court rules". London: Times Online. Archived from the original on
March 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-23. His sentence of 45 years is
believed to be the longest specific jail term ever imposed by an
^ Daniel Pipes (Spring 1989). "Terrorism: The Syrian Connection". The
National Interest. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
^ "Accident description
El Al 1862". Aviation Safety. Retrieved
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from the original on 2004-12-04. Retrieved 2007-05-28.
^ "FBI, Justice:
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Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved
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2002-11-18. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
^ Fisher, Ian (2002-11-27). "Man Denies Trying To Hijack
El Al Plane".
The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
^ Ashkenazi, Eli; Khoury, Jack (2005-10-11). "
El Al hijacker released
to house arrest". Haaretz. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
Media related to
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