The maiden flight of Virgin Atlantic on its new route between Tel Aviv and London Heathrow is scheduled to land this evening at 8.30 pm. Virgin Atlantic is competing on one of the most popular routes among Israeli passengers: both leisure and business. Most of the airline's efforts however, are aimed at connection flights that it will offer from Heathrow in London to a range of destinations around the world, with an emphasis on North America.
There is no doubt that as soon as Virgin Atlantic announced its arrival in Tel Aviv, legacy airlines British Airways and El Al would face some stiff competition on this route. "Globes" set out to investigate how much Israeli consumers will benefit, and whether Virgin Atlantic's prices are really competitive. We examined prices of flights on various dates on the airlines' websites.
The cheapest direct flight on the Tel Aviv-London Heathrow route from October 30 through November 6 is by Virgin Atlantic. An El Al flight on the route costs $589 without luggage and $679 with luggage. British Airways flights start at $543, while Virgin Atlantic's flights start at $444 without luggage and $524 with luggage.
A flight to other airports in the London area, such as Luton, is not necessarily cheaper. El Al flights from Ben Gurion Airport to Luton start at $463 without luggage and $553 with luggage. easyJet flights start at $370 without luggage, plus $80 more for luggage.
An examination of flights to London during the Passover holiday in 2020 (April 12-16) shows that Virgin Atlantic is again the cheapest. El Al roundtrip flights to and from Heathrow Airport on these dates start at $624 without luggage and $719 with luggage and seating. El Al flights to Luton start at $552 without luggage and $647 with luggage. British Airways flights cost $675 including luggage. On Virgin Atlantic, tickets start at $542 without luggage and $622 with luggage.
British Airways offers the best prices from Tel Aviv to JFK Airport in New York for a route including a stop at Heathrow Airport. From October 30 through November 6, flights on Virgin Atlantic on its website start at $965, while British Airways flights on the same date and route cost $900. In both cases, the cheapest tickets include a suitcase of up to 23 kilograms. El Al direct flights to JFK Airport on the same day start at $1,214.
The difference in prices on the intermediate days of the Passover holiday next year are substantial. Virgin Atlantic is the most expensive: flights from Tel Aviv to New York, including a stop in Heathrow Airport, start at $1868 on the airline's website. Flights on the same route on British Airways start at $1,067, while direct El Al flights from Tel Aviv to New York start at $1,165.
The obvious conclusion is that it is always worthwhile to compare prices between as many airlines as possible. In the case of flights to New York with an intermediate stop, the possibilities from Tel Aviv are almost endless, with stops in Istanbul and various European destinations available. Airlines that do not operate direct flights from Tel Aviv have also learned that demand for flights to New York is extremely strong among Israeli passengers, and they are also offering attractive prices for connection flights.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 25, 2019
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