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Another record set by Israel

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ANT KATZ

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the greatest number of passengers ever carried by a commercial airliner is 1 088, by an El Al Boeing 747 during Operation Solomon, which involved the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and started on May 24 1991.

This figure included two babies born on the flight. The operation to evacuate the Ethiopian Jews continued non-stop for 36 hours involving a total of 34 El Al jumbo jets and Hercules C-130s – with seats removed to accommodate the maximum number of passengers.

Featured on page 126 of the 1995 edition of the auspicious records book, the entry reads as follows:

“An astounding record was set on 24 May 1991 when 1 086 Ethiopian Jews were evacuated to Israel in one plane. This was more than double the normal capacity of a passenger jumbo jet, and not surprisingly, never before had so many people flown in a commercial airliner. Two babies were born en route bringing the total who landed in Israel to 1 088. The flight was just one of 40 which were put on to evacuate a total of 14 200 Jews to their promised land from Addis Ababa, the besieged capital of Ethiopia, all in the space of 24 hours. The exercise, codenamed ‘Operation Solomon’, had been planned over several weeks with US diplomatic assistance, and (the first) President Bush personally helped with the request to the Ethiopian government for permission to be granted to carry out the airlift.”

The Jewish Agency for Israel and El Al, the Israeli national airline, helped co-ordinate the whole operation. Nearly 25 years later, the record still stands!

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