MIAMI – With a population of Jewish descent surpassing 600,000—for a long time the second largest in the United States, second only to New York City and only recently eclipsed by Los Angeles—the metropolitan area of South Florida has kept close cultural and economic ties with Israel, the Holy Land, for well over half a century.

Israel’s national airline, El Al (LY/ELY), also has a rich history with South Florida.

Being the only airline who has operated nonstop services between the two cities, the route from Tel Aviv (TLV) to Miami (MIA) was first launched in 2002 and operated using a mix of Boeing 747s, 767s, and 777s.

The route was kept operative throughout the years until it was discontinued in September 2008, amidst the economic crisis that affected most of the western world during that period.

Fuel costs and the economic recession forced El Al’s presence in South Florida to come to a halt.

In May of 2017, El Al proudly announced its return to South Florida with three weekly Boeing 777-200ER frequencies between Tel Aviv and Miami (Flights LY17/18) starting in November of that year.

Airways was onboard the inaugural flight from Miami to Tel Aviv, back in November 2017 onboard the airline’s Boeing 777-200(ER)

On October 29, 2018, on the eve of the first anniversary of El Al’s return to South Florida, and as part of a series of fleet adjustments on its North American network which also includes New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (BOS), and Toronto (YYZ), the airline added the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to its Miami route (as well as LAX), replacing the 777-200ER.

At the presentation ceremony of the El Al Dreamliner in Miami, in the presence of airline and airport officials, as well as representatives from the Israeli government and tourism bureaus, El Al Vice President Yoram Elgrabli remarked the success the airline has experienced since its return to Miami.

The Dreamliner Joins El Al’s Fleet

EL AL Israel took delivery of their first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in August 2017, leased through an agreement with Air Lease Corporation.

The aircraft, 4X-EDA, touched down in Tel Aviv after a 6,746 miles nonstop delivery flight from Paine Field.

“The arrival of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a day of pride and joy to all of us at EL AL,” said El Al Israel CEO, David Maimon.

“It is the highlight in the ongoing renewal of the EL AL fleet, which started a year and a half ago when we decided to order 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. We are happy to embark on a new journey with our first Dreamliner.”

The airline claims that load factors have been in the range of 87 to 90% on every flight. And an increase of two weekly frequencies on the route, from the initial three to five, with hopes of the flight becoming daily in the near future.

Following Elgrabli, the Consul General of Israel in Miami, Lior Haiat, mentioned the importance of linking South Florida with Israel due to its cultural ties.

Elgrabli reflected on a message of peace and unity among the Jewish people in light of the tragic events which happened just two days prior at the Pittsburgh Synagogue.

As we reached Gate J5 to tour the aircraft, we were greeted by 4X-EDE, named “Bat Yam/ בַּת יָם”, delivered to El Al on June 28, 2018, as the company’s fourth Dreamliner.

The plane had arrived following a 13 hour-long flight (LY17) from Tel Aviv earlier in the morning.

El Al’s current 787 includes six frames plus a remaining three on order, including the newest Dreamliner in the fleet, 4X-EDF named “Ashdod/ אַשְׁדּוֹד”, which is painted in the airline’s 1960s vintage livery and had operated the inaugural El Al Dreamliner flight to Los Angeles the day before.

The El Al Dreamliners have a capacity of 282 passengers spread across Business First (32 pax), Premium Economy (28 pax), and Economy (222).

In Business First Class, which blends the previously segregated Business and First Classes prior to the introduction of the 787 in the El Al fleet, passengers can enjoy  78” of legroom in a 1-2-1 abreast configuration on par with long haul industry standards as well as a 16” touch screen.

The 28 seats in Premium Economy Class are configured 2-3-2 with 38” of legroom, and Economy Class offers a standard pitch of 31” on a 3-3-3 abreast configuration.

All classes on the El Al Dreamliner offer latest generation entertainment systems and signify a considerable improvement from the rest of the airline’s fleet in terms on comfort.

In the case of Miami, it’s a certain enhancement in the passenger experience for the 12/13 hour flight to and from Tel Aviv.