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NEW YORK - The summer of 2004 was the busiest and most successful season for El Al's North American business.

Nira Dror, who has been head of the airline's North America region for a year, said record numbers of passengers were flying to and from Israel from the U.S. and Canada.

She said El Al captured 60 percent of the market on the North America-Israel route between June 27 and September 4 and had flown 50,000 passengers from the United States to Israel in August alone.

"The rate of people flying to Israel with El Al [from North America] is greater than those flying on all other airlines on the route," she said.

She said there was an increase in first-class and business-class passengers on the direct Tel Aviv route.

Second in line was Continental, which had 20 percent of the market.