El Al Airlines has won the tender for making the first Israeli commercial flight to the United Arab Emirates next week, according to media reports.
A narrow-bodied 737-900 will carry the Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi. It was chosen over the El Al Dreamliners for security reasons.
The news sparked hope among the company’s pilots that this might mark the end of a devastating two-month grounding of passenger flights due to the pandemic.
“Today we gave special approval for free senior pilots to return to train for work on the 737 fleet in order to operate the flight to the UAE. This includes refresher flights today and on the Amsterdam simulator tomorrow without contractual restrictions for the benefit of this significant and historic flight for the entire people of Israel. At the same time the director of the 787 fleet has also been brought back to work and we hope that the company will bring both fleets back into operation as soon as possible.”
El Al’s employees are hoping that this flight will stimulate additional flights before the end of September, the current target date for resuming cargo flights.
Meanwhile, Israir, the carrier that lost to El Al in the bidding, got a thank-you from Minister of Transportation Miri Regev (Likud) for continuing its flights to Eilat during the crisis, Arutz Sheva reported.
In addition to regular flights from Tel Aviv to Eilat, Israir also operates charter flights to Europe. Israir is Israel’s third largest airline after El Al and Arkia and has 350 employees.