El Al Launches New Routes to Vegas, San Francisco

As of next summer El Al will be flying direct to eight destinations in North America

A night-time aerial view of the Strip, in the U.S. city of Las Vegas, August 2015.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

El Al will offer direct round-trip flights between Tel Aviv and Las Vegas starting on June 14, 2019, the carrier announced Monday.

As part of a new scheme El Al will receive funding for the new route from the Tourism Ministry, which is now offering grants of up to 750,000 euros to any airline that launches flights from Israel to new destinations. The amount of support depends on the frequency of the flights. El Al will receive a 250,000-euro grant because it is operating the Las Vegas route once a week.

El Al will also be opening nonstop flights to San Francisco as part of efforts to expand its service to the United States and Canada. Starting on May 13, 2019, the airline will offer three weekly flights to the popular city near the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley, and thus compete with United, which has flown daily to San Francisco since 2016. El Al’s new 787 Dreamliners will be used for these flights, offering three classes of seating: economy, premium and business.

The San Francisco route was originally scheduled to start last month, but ticket sales were suddenly halted. El Al said the delay is the result of the accelerated removal from service of old aircraft, including a 767 that was damaged on the ground at Ben-Gurion International Airport early this year.

The flights to Las Vegas will take off on Fridays from Ben-Gurion at 7 A.M. and land after 14 hours and 15 minutes, at 11:15 A.M. local time. The return flights will depart Las Vegas on Saturday nights at 10:45 P.M. and land in Tel Aviv 13-and-a-half hours later, at 10:15 P.M. on Monday.

For his part, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says inauguration of the Las Vegas route is part of a general effort to improve air travel to the United States. A record number of tourists are visiting Israel, with almost 1 million coming from the United States alone in the last year, he noted, and the new route will particularly contribute to incoming tourism from the western states.

El Al’s new flights to San Francisco, some 15 hours in duration, will take off on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:05 A.M., arriving at 6 A.M. California time. The return trip, lasting some 13 hours and 40 minutes, will be on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 P.M. and on Saturday nights at 10:45 P.M.

As of next summer El Al will be flying direct to eight destinations in North America: New York, Newark, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Toronto.

El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin says purchase of the new Dreamliner aircraft is facilitating the operation of longer distance routes, including a new one to Miami last year.