El Al to test nearly 18-hour nonstop between Israel and Australia

Nov 27, 2019

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Israeli flag carrier El Al aims to join the ranks of ultra long-haul flying with plans to test a new nonstop between Tel Aviv and Melbourne in Australia.

The planned flight will take roughly 16 hours and 45 minutes from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Melbourne (MEL), and the return roughly 17 hours and 45 minutes, according to local reports citing El Al. The airline will operate a Boeing 787-9 on the route that it plans to trial in the second quarter of 2020.

The Australian Ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan, tweeted Wednesday that the new flight would be a “game changer for tourism and, along with our soon to be ratified tax treaty, a real boon for trade and investment.”

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El Al’s planned test flights will have to contend with the geopolitical realities of the Gulf. The most direct routing from Tel Aviv to Melbourne is 8,535 miles but, due to restrictions on flying through Saudi airspace, the flight is expected to take a more circuitous routing over the Red Sea that could put the distance at up to about 8,900 miles.

Even at 8,900 miles and a flight time of upwards of 18 hours from Melbourne to Tel Aviv, El Al is not likely to change the rankings of the world’s longest routes much. Singapore Airlines’ service between Newark (EWR) and Singapore (SIN) will remain the longest route at 9,534 miles, and other routes like Qantas’ flight between London Heathrow (LHR) and Perth (PER), and Qatar Airways’ flight between Auckland (AKL) and Doha (DOH) longer than the planned El Al service.

Qantas set the record for the longest flight with its Project Sunrise test flights, operating a 9,950-mile nonstop from New York to Sydney in October and then a 10,573-mile nonstop from London to Sydney earlier this month. Both flights were over 19 hours in flight time.

Related: What it was like on the 19-hour Project Sunrise flight

In addition to the new ultra long-haul, El Al plans to return to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) next year after a 13-year hiatus.

Featured image by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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