El Al Airlines introduces first ever flight between Tel Aviv, Israel and Abu Dhabi & UAE

Wednesday, September 2, 2020


Israeli national carrier El Al made history today, operating its first ever flight between Tel Aviv, Israel and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The 737-900ER performing flight LY971 took 3 hours 17 minutes to complete the 2,110 kilometer journey. It’s a historic flight for the airline but also for Israel and the UAE, as it marks the beginning of a thawing of relations between the two nations.

Israel and the UAE have normalized diplomatic relations after having none to speak of, and have now embarked on the process of deepening ties. That’s a controversial move in the eyes of some in the region given the decades of hostility between Israel and many of its neighbors. The El Al flight acted as a symbol – of the possibility to move beyond those hostilities, or at least to begin the process. In a nod to that fact, the outbound flight number 971 is the international dialing code for the UAE, while the return will carry the Israeli code 972.

This particular 737 had been grounded since the early days of the pandemic, and was brought back into service specifically for this. The only other flight it completed in recent days was a half-hour test loop from and to Tel Aviv – no doubt in preparation for this flight which carried delegations from the US and Israel, journalists and others

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