El Al Advances Melbourne Route Plans
El Al Israel Airlines is looking to expand to Australia, signing a letter of intent with the Victorian state government to launch nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne.
The agreement outlines proposals for Israel’s national carrier to begin flying to the Australian city by June 2024 with three round trips per week. The move would add 44,000 seats to Melbourne’s market and is forecast to bring a A$48 million ($32 million) boost to Victoria’s economy, creating an estimated 155 jobs in aviation and tourism.
“We look forward to launching our first ever nonstop flights to Melbourne as we position Victoria as Israel’s gateway to Australia,” El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia says.
Once operational, the flights would provide a sole nonstop link between Israel and Australia. The Victoria government said direct service would strengthen trade links—building on an agreement signed with the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce in 2017—and support the international education sector. About 45% of Israeli students studying in Australia were enrolled in Victorian institutions in 2019.
“More international flights to such an important trading partner will power our economy and boost our status as a key destination for tourism, trade and investment,” says Ben Carroll, Victoria’s minister for industry and innovation.
El Al first mooted plans for a Melbourne route in 2019, alongside services to Tokyo and Dublin. Although proposals for all three were dropped due to the pandemic, the carrier began flights to Tokyo Narita on March 1 and to Dublin on March 16.
The airline’s Asia-Pacific network plans have been boosted in recent months by Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for overflights to and from Israel. Oman has followed suit, enabling Israeli carriers to use a Saudi-Oman corridor. It is estimated that the flight time to destinations in Asia will be reduced by up to two hours as a result.