El Al Airline is the flag carrier of Israel, offering air travel in the country. It has its hub at Ben Gurion International Airport. The airline holds the world record for most passengers on a commercial flight, by the virtue of its part in Operation Solomon. It is also regarded by many as the most secure airline of the world, after it managed to foil many hijacking attempts and terror attacks, mainly owing to its security protocol. Around sixty percent of the passengers who travel by El Al are Israelis. The airline also holds a 50% stake in Israel Inland Airlines, a state-run domestic airline. El Al also became the second airline, after the British Overseas Airways Corporation, to fly Bristol Britannia aircraft (later replaced by Boeing 707).
El AL was founded on November 15, 1948 and in the beginning, it operated with borrowed carriers. Its inaugural flight in September 1948 brought Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizman, home from Geneva. The airline started commercial operations in August 1949, with a service from Tel Aviv to Rome and Paris. The first carrier of the airline arrived at Lod Airport on April 3, 1949. The airline’s cargo services began in 1950. Chartered services to U.S commenced in the same year, followed by scheduled flights. In the 1950, El AL Airline also started a regular service to London.
El AL Airline founded a catering subsidiary in the late 1960’s, under the name of Teshet Tourism and Aviation Services Ltd. Around this time, the airline became the victim of many highjack attempts, only one of which was successful. In 1977, it set up a charter subsidiary, Sun D'Or International Airlines Ltd (then known as El Al Charter Services Ltd). After a long period of labor disputes and strikes, the operations of El AL Airline were suspended in late 1982 and resumed only later in the following year, under receivership.
In 1991, El Al Airline started charter flights. Its cargo branch started operating independently in 1997. The airline inaugurated a new King David Lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, in 2007. It will serve premium class passengers of the airlines; offering drinks, magazines, newspapers and free internet access. Some other King David lounges are located at Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion, Paris-CDG, New York City-JFK International, London-Heathrow, and Los Angeles-International.
Among the international destinations covered by El Al Airline are Canada, U.S, and Brazil, apart from European destinations like U.K, Russia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, and Spain. In Asia, it serves China, India, South Korea, Thailand, and Kazakhstan; while the airline caters to Egypt and South Africa in the African continent.
The airline has a fleet of over 30 aircrafts consisting of eleven Boeing 737-800, six Boeing 777-200ER, five Boeing 747-400, four Boeing 767-200ER, two Boeing 737-700, and three Boeing 767-300ER. It has also placed orders for 4 Boeing 777-200ER aircrafts, which will be delivered in 2012.
El Al Airline, being the flag carrier of Israel, has been involved in many clandestine operations, such as airlifting immigrants to Israel from India, Iran, Iraq and Yemen, during the Operation Magic Carpet and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. It also made a significant contribution to the humanitarian rescue efforts of Israel, like airlifting Jews from countries like Ethiopia and Yemen, where their life was in jeopardy. Operation Solomon, in 1991, led to the airlifting of a huge number of Ethiopian Jews, under an Israeli military operation.