Since Oct. 7, El Al has moved medical supplies, handknit scarfs and everything in between

"Flying soldiers and equipment is essential, but we knew we could do so much more," says Nadav Hanin of Israel’s national airlines.

An El Al 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Courtesy.
An El Al 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Courtesy.

Within hours of receiving the call to return to Israel and military service, thousands of members of the Israel Defense Forces stood in airports across the globe waiting to board planes to bring them home. Suitcases in hand, they waited to get home as airline after airline canceled flights to Israel. Only El Al Israel Airlines continued to fly to the Jewish state.

As supporters of Israel and Israeli expatriates have united to support the Jewish state in the wake of Oct. 7, El Al increased its flight capacity so it could transport thousands of people and life-saving supplies to where they were needed most.

“From tactical helmets and fleece sweaters to handknit scarves and tzitzit for soldiers, El Al has been bringing the flood of donations from across the world to our chayalim,” said Nadav Hanin, vice president of marketing and digital at El Al.

Since the war began, El Al has flown more than 615,000 passengers to and from Israel. This includes reserve and active-duty soldiers who were abroad when the war began and returned to Israel to serve in the IDF, as well as diplomats, volunteer missions and tourists visiting Israel to bring well-wishes and an economic boost to Israel during this difficult time. El Al is also flying the families of hostages around the globe so they can best advocate for their loved one’s release.

An El Al 787 Dreamliner
An El Al 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Courtesy.

During these 3,600-plus flights, El Al has also transported more than 13,000 tons of essential cargo, including defense equipment and medical supplies. It even converted a passenger jet to full cargo service just for this purpose.

“Flying soldiers and equipment is essential, but we knew we could do so much more,” said Hanin. “We are working to lift Israeli spirits by bringing volunteer missions and sending meals to rescue workers and displaced families. We are also modifying our ticket policies to accommodate the flexibility travelers need at this time.”

Last month, El Al launched a “Falafel Unit” in coordination with the Israeli falafel chain Falafel Baribua. The food-truck operation served up thousands of the quintessential Israeli sandwiches to soldiers and rescue forces fighting in the north and south.

The airline also partnered with singers and comedians to visit displaced families and help bring them a little joy.

Witnessing an increased need for scheduling changes and for Israelis to take respite getaways, El Al has been working to make last-minute travel changes easier for customers. To enable passengers to book a flight with advance planning and alleviate worry, El Al is allowing the cancellation of a ticket without fees, in exchange for a credit voucher equal to the full value of the ticket. This benefit makes it possible for passengers to book flights early for Passover and the coming summer. Reservation cancellation will be possible up to 24 hours before the departure time.

Even as the war continues, El Al is working with Nefesh B’Nefesh as Jewish families emigrate to Israel. Since Oct. 7, El Al has flown 926 new olim to Israel.

Through “Operation Hug,” El Al, working with Nefesh B’Nefesh, Jewish National Fund-USA and Friends of the IDF (FIDF), has coordinated efforts to bring family members to Israel so they can visit their lone soldiers serving in the IDF. So far, the project has provided free trips to 950 parents of soldiers in active combat units during war.

Even as El Al personnel go on leave from their civilian positions to serve in the IDF, the airline has remained a steadfast resource for the country’s transportation needs.

Said Hanin: “We will continue to do what is needed to remain the air bridge between Israel and the world, both in times of peace and in times of crisis.”

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EL AL was founded in November 1948 as Israel’s national airline and operated its first scheduled flight in 1949. In June 1950, EL AL began service between Tel Aviv and New York. Today EL AL serves 49 international destinations in 33 countries. EL AL continues to grow in step with the country. Although the airline was privatized economically several years ago, its national spirit and commitment to Israel have never wavered. EL AL continues its many national activities striving for excellence through the service it offers its passengers. EL AL will continue to grow and flourish with the State and to be the first choice of travelers to and from Israel.
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