El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) this morning completed its longest-ever flight - 17 hours and 15 minutes - between Melbourne and Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. The outward journey had taken 16 hours and 30 minutes. The crew of 19, which included 8 pilots, did not leave the plane in Australia.
The flight brought 280 Israelis back to Israel who had been stranded in Australia and New Zealand during the global lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Any Israelis already holding an El Al ticket back to Israel were allowed aboard for free, otherwise the fare was $2,480, Walla! reports.
The flight was part of a series of airlifts undertaken by Israeli carriers El Al, Arkia and Israir at the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to bring home Israelis from around the world.
Last month El Al sent four flights to Lima, Peru to bring home 1,100 Israeli backpackers, paid for from donations by Israeli businesspeople, while two flights from Delhi, India were paid for by the passengers themselves. There were also rescue flights to Perth, Australia and Bogota, Colombia. Israir arranged emergency flights from Italy and Central Europe.
El Al had anyway planned to launch regular commercial flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne starting with a series of trial flights from April 2. But those plans have been put on hold due to the crisis.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 3, 2020
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