Israel aviation: invigorated by EU open skies – but not El Al
On 14-Jun-2019 El Al launched a weekly service from Tel Aviv to Las Vegas, operated by new Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The launch to the US city known for its casinos is another throw of the dice in a calculated gamble by Israel's biggest airline to restore profitability and counter ever growing competition.
El Al lost USD52 million in 2018, in contrast to a small profit of USD6 million in 2017, and its 1Q2019 loss widened to USD55 million from USD44 million a year earlier.
Passenger numbers were flat in 2018, when El Al's share of traffic at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion fell to a new low. However, it is fighting back, with new routes launched this year to Nice, San Francisco, Manchester in addition to Las Vegas. A summer route to Orlando is planned and, in 2020, it plans to launch Chicago and Tokyo.
Arkia, the launch operator for Airbus' long range A320neoLR, is in a particularly expansive mood currently. Moreover, foreign LCCs, led by Wizz Air, easyJet, Pegasus and Ryanair, continue to grow their share of seats to/from Israel. The Israel-EU open skies agreement, progressively implemented between 2013 and 2018, has certainly invigorated Israeli aviation markets.
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