El Al CEO reports interest from investors

Elyezer Shkedy spoke as El Al inaugurated its first Boeing 737-900, which makes its maiden flight to Paris on Thursday.

"There has recently been interest from serious groups both in Israel and worldwide in investing in El Al and that's a significant point indicating how El Al is seen," said El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) CEO Elyezer Shkedy at today's ceremony to inaugurate the carrier's Boeing 737-900. Shkedy was referring to the cancellation of the First Israel Mezzanine Investors Fund (FIMI) investment deal.

At the ceremony the Boeing 737-900 was inaugurated. The aircraft was recently delivered to El Al as part of the renewal of its fleet, and to answer critics who say that the carrier's aging fleet blights the flying experience.

The new aircraft is the first of eight aircraft of this model (El Al reported last night that it would exercise its option to procure two more El Al Boeing 737-900 aircraft) that should be delivered by the first half of 2016 at an overall cost of $430 million. In order to buy the aircraft El Al has obtained long-term financing from external sources to cover 85% of the costs of the planes, with the balance financed from its own resources.

The Boeing 737-900 is an advanced wide-bodied plane introduced by Boeing last year and El Al is one of the world's first carriers to take delivery of the passenger aircraft. The plane is more efficient than the previous 737 model, and the costs of running it, including fuel, maintenance etc. are 5-10% lower. The aircraft has 172 seats and El Al will use it on routes to Central and Western Europe. The seating configuration chosen by El Al comprises 156 economy class seats and 16 business class seats.

One of the main innovations in the new plane is the introduction of an entertainment system developed by Lufthansa Systems. The system will broadcast entertainment content to the passenger's personal device, whether laptop, tablet or smartphone, using streaming technology so that the passenger can choose what content to watch and when.

Other innovations include thinner seats with ergonomic pillows for maximum comfort with the book pocket on the upper part of the seat in economy class to maximize space. Each seat also has an electricity point and USB port.

The new aircraft will make its maiden flight tomorrow to Paris.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 23, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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