El Al Prepares for Cold Winter by Flying Smaller Jets

In anticipation of a cold, slower winter season for tourism, El Al Israel Airlines is cutting back its use of wide-body jets in favor of smaller ones.

Now that the peak travel season - the High Holidays - is over, El Al will start next month to scale back use of its Boeing 747-40 and 767s, in favor of Boeing 737s for short-range flights, and 757s for longer ones. On the longest trips, El Al will continue to use 777s, although they have a large seating capacity.

Not only is El Al sparing itself from flying planes that are not full: It is also cutting back on flights, thus economizing on crew time.

"El Al is adapting its fleet to its winter activity and to demand," the carrier commented. It is not scaling its flight schedules back during the coming winter, El Al insisted, noting that its activity had already been depressed in 2009 because of the global economic crisis and the army's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

El Al, which was privatized about five years ago, is in good company. Without any connection to Israel, Lufthansa is also preparing for a tough winter season. Yesterday the German carrier announced it's reducing its winter schedule by 7.5% compared with the summer, starting on October 25. Most of the changes it is instituting involve flights within European. As for its Israel schedule, Lufthansa is cutting back its capacity on the Munich-Ben Gurion International Airport line by 50% for the winter. It will provide 18 regular flights a week - four to Munich and the rest to Frankfurt.

Lufthansa's spokesman in Israel, Tal Muscal, commented that comfort and quality would not be impaired: The seats in business class open to 2-meter-long beds, and the seats in coach come with personal video screens and a new entertainment system.