El Al to Fly Reservists Home on Sabbath

El Al to Fly Reservists Home on Sabbath

DALLAS — For the first time in 41 years, Israel’s national carrier, El Al (LY), will fly reserve soldiers around the world home on Saturday on emergency flights to serve in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Tomorrow’s LY operation breaks the airline’s 40-year-plus policy of not flying on the Jewish Sabbath. The carrier said it would operate one flight from New York, two from Bangkok, and one from Madrid to collect reservists who received military call-up orders as well as other members of the security forces and medical and rescue teams.

Israeli reserve soldiers stationed abroad are eligible to return to Israel at no cost, according to a press release from the airline. Major US financial institutions and the Israeli airline will cover the cost of the flight.

In response to the ongoing military operations in Gaza, Israel has called up approximately 360,000 reserve soldiers. This is the largest call-up since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel called up 400,000 reservists. According to Ahram Online, Israeli airlines received permission from rabbis to fly on the Jewish Sabbath, stating that “the preservation of life overrode other religious laws.”

It is worth noting that LY’s aircraft are equipped with a Doppler radar system that uses the Doppler effect to produce velocity data pertaining to objects at a distance. When an LY aircraft comes under attack, the system responds within seconds by firing invisible flares that divert any heat-seeking missiles.

El Al was the first to install an anti-missile defense system on its aircraft, and the carrier is considered to have one of the most advanced systems, making it one of the safest airlines in the region.

Dozens of Airlines Cancel Flights to Israel

Al-Monitor reported that as of October 11, 2023, the following airlines had canceled or reduced flights to and from Israel:

Aegean Airlines (A3)

Azerbaijan Airlines (J2)

Air Astana (KC)

Air Europa (UX)

Air France-KLM (AF)

Air Malta (MT)

American Airlines (AA)

Austrian Airlines (OS)

Brussels Airlines (SN)

Bulgaria Air (FB)  

Cathay Pacific (CX)

Delta Air Lines (DL)

Easyjet (U2)

Emirates Airlines (EK) 

Etihad Airways (EY) 

Finnair (AY)

Gulf Air (GF)

Hainan (HU)

Iberia (IB)

Icelandair (FI)

ITA Airways (AZ)

Korean Air (KE)

Lufthansa (LH)

Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY)

Pegasus Airlines (PC)


Royal Air Maro (AT)

Ryanair (FR)

TAP (TP)  

Swiss International Airlines (LX)

Turkish Airlines (TK)

United Airlines (UA)

Virgin Atlantic (VVS)

Vueling (VY)  

Wizz Air (W4)

This is a developing story.

Featured image: 4X-EDK El Al Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner B789 JFK KJFK. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

Avgeek since I was eight years old. Also a grammar geek and former English teacher.

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