El Al’s new flying times for Jo’burg-Tel Aviv
Beit Halachmy was visiting South Africa last week as part of a public relations campaign and to explain schedule changes over the winter.
Beit Halachmy told the Jewish Report that the importance of the Johannesburg-Tel Aviv route was reinforced by the high passenger numbers during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Gaza conflict, in contrast to Europe where there was a marked decline in tourist numbers. Traffic on the South African route showed hardly any drop.
“For us this was a very positive sign. It was a great help to have one of our routes operating with a high load factor,” she said.
Overall, the airline is happy with the results of its three weekly flights from South Africa to Israel.
Roz Bukris, El Al’s general manager for Southern and Eastern Africa, said she and Beit Halachmy were giving the reasons for changes to flight times on Mondays and Thursdays so that people could understand them. There is no change to the Saturday evening flight time.
Beit Halachmy explained that El Al has changed its schedule for the period between June and August this year and that this would cause a delay in departures of the Monday and Thursday flights. The previous 11:00 Monday flight now departs 13 hours later, at 00:30 on Tuesday morning. The Thursday flight leaves some 90 minutes later, at 21:35, instead of 20:05.
These changes are a result of pilot training required by the introduction of the new Boeing 767 planes which is taking longer than originally anticipated.
Later departure times from OR Tambo Airport mean that the planes could also leave Israel later. This means the crews spend less time in Johannesburg, which also allows for more training time and enables crew to be used earlier for other flights.
El Al said they are also excited that their passengers will now be able to use their own devices, such as iPads to see movies and other entertainment, and will be able to use a phone, provided they have download the application prior to the trip.
At present, only a limited number of El Al planes have this facility available, but it will be more widely available from the end of the year. It is worth downloading the app right away, El AL urged, because it might just be available on the plane on which passengers are flying now.
Bukris reminded passengers that they could still get SAA Voyager miles on El Al flights.
Finally, in response to a question about a flight that had been delayed recently because of operational issues, Beit Halachmy said the new schedules had nothing to do with technical delays. “All airlines have technical issues. We try to take care of passengers as best we can. These are not unusual issues.”