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El Al Keeps Flying Despite the War, Only Nine Flights Canceled

The Israeli national airline is steadfast on continuing operations.

An El Al Dreamliner in Everett, Wash (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Israel’s national airline – El Al – seems determined on continuing near regular operations despite an active war taking place in its home country. The airline has also added flights to support the repatriation of citizens while also heeding the call of the Israeli military to bring in 360,000 reservists.

In a largely unprecedented move, El Al will also operate flights on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath. As a religious observation, the airline does not typically operate from sundown Friday evening until sundown Saturday evening. According to View from the Wing, El Al consulted with rabbis and concluded that preserving life was critical.

Continuing Service in a War-Torn Region

With OpsGroup categorizing Israel’s airspace as a ‘Level 1 – Do Not Fly’ risk, most carriers have pulled down their schedules to Tel Aviv, the region’s largest airport. Numerous reports continue to emerge of attacks directly on the airport as war continues to rage.

AirlineGeeks analyzed schedule information from industry data provider OAG. Even while maintaining the largest market share at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport at roughly 20%, El Al has canceled only nine flights total since reports began to emerge of Hamas’ initial attack on Saturday, Oct. 7 to Thursday, Oct. 12.

For 2023, El Al has the most capacity from Israel, according to Cirium data. The carrier had 30,498 scheduled for the entire year.

El Al’s nine flight cancellations represent approximately 3% of the carrier’s 290 scheduled operations from Tel Aviv. Of course, not all of these cancellations are directly correlated with the ongoing war.

For reference, Israir – a domestic and regional operator in the country – has scrubbed 39% of its planned schedule during the same period. Also, Turkish Airlines, one of only a handful of international operators still serving Tel Aviv, canceled 44 of its planned 88 flights.

Despite being the largest airline in Israel, El Al has canceled the fewest number of flights relative to its planned schedule.

Maintaining a Safe Link

Flying through a war zone does indeed present its own set of risks, but so does cutting off an air link. With wartime bringing its own set of economic challenges as well, perhaps El Al is weighing those risks as it looks at the airline’s overall strategy.

The airline is well-positioned to handle such events as most of its fleet has anti-missile deterrence capabilities. It also has some of the most stringent security protocols in the world.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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