El Al Will Buy 30 Boeing 737 MAXs

El Al says it will buy “around” 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft “in a deal estimated to be worth between $2 billion-2.5 billion” (which means it’s about half that amount). Deliveries will begin in 2027.

El Al had also been looking at the Airbus A321neo. Boeing offers likely four advantages,

  • Delivery slots. It’s easier to get MAXs than A321s right now, as the Airbus narrowbodies have been in high demand both because they’ve generally performed well and because of Boeing’s troubles.

  • Discounting. Boeing is likely willing to discount more than Airbus to win orders and PR victories. They have greater reason to go deeper to win a deal right now. Boeing is the more desperate supplier.

  • Fleet commonality. Israel operates an all-Boeing fleet today, including 737s. Introducing Airbus narrowbodies would have added complexity and cost.

  • War allies. Israel has not just the support of the U.S. Administration in its war against Hamas terrorist forces and as it defends against Iranian proxies (e.g. Hezbollah, Houthis) but also a majority of the U.S. Congress. While the President has positioned himself as a frequent rhetorical critic of Israel, attempting to defend his political position in battleground Michigan, and much of his staff have been unhappy with support, Israel has benefited from its U.S. relationship for funding, intelligence and tactical backing.

    The U.S. engages in more industrial policy than is commonly acknowledged, and it would have been unseemly to choose the European product over the American one. Israel choosing America when it’s unpopular has important symbolic significance.

It’s been impressive that El Al has continued to operate its schedule amidst terrorist attacks while the country’s missile defense system has done an admirable job defending Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

There was no announcement as to whether new delivery Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will come equipped with the E-MUSIC anti-missile defense systems. The airline’s 737s and 777s did, 787s did not.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The last point is the one that really dictated this sale.
    “the big guy” is waffling and trying to please two very different groups and failing at satisfying either.

    Israel is smart enough to throw a few more billion into the mix right before the election until the political moves die down in favor of a stable US-Israel relationship

    LY probably won’t get any 2027 planned deliveries until 2029 anyway

  2. This is purely political….as mentioned this is to solidify American foreign aid….its not really Israel spending the money; rather giving USA a debate on the insane amount we give Israel in terms of aid.

    Frankly, the entire war machine needs to stop…no more aid to Gaza, Israel or Ukraine…..why is the USA continuing to fund this? Oh wait…cuz they will go to China and Russia for that money…..so its not like they love America….its the biggest cheque they are looking for….regardless of superpower!

  3. because the defense manufacturers create enormous wealth from conflict overseas and politicians don’t want to be left out of that cash… that’s why

    btw, DL and UA are both now flying to Israel again and the flights are probably packed just like they have been on LY since the war began

  4. China has their Belt and Roads Initiative. The USA has lawyers, guns and money.

  5. I am curious where El Al will choose to fly these planes whenever they get delivered. Which new routes will we see to and from TLV? How much international-to-international transit traffic will El Al and TLV be able to get? With the upcoming introduction of a de facto electronic visa regime for foreigners to visit or transit Israel, will Israel feel more comfortable with transit passenger traffic via TLV?

  6. The older planes 737&777 had the missile defense system installed before Israel had developed the iron dome.
    After the iron dome had been operating in Israel, elal didn’t see the need to install the missile defense system, hence why not installed on 787s

  7. Joe Biden is a genius! He sells Israel some airplanes at a steep discount. These airplanes have severe safety problems, increasing the likelihood of a deadly catastrophe, which will please the Palestinians!

  8. When will Gaza airport reopen? GZA was bombed by Israel then bulldozers used to destroy the runway.

    When will Hamas retaliate and destroy TLV airport? Never?

    Hamas militants are a legitimate target for the IDF. GZA airport is not. GZA could easily be manned by Israeli security to prevent artillery and jet fighters from being flown in for delivery to Hamas.

  9. @GUWonder – I don’t believe that transit passenger traffic is at all any goal that ElAl is looking for, or even expecting. ElAl has always about point-to-point flights to / from Israel, and has never seen transit traffic, except for a very, very small few.
    Even when (hopefully soon) Israel and Saudi Arabia normalize relations, no one is going to take ElAl to fly via TLV and then onwards to Saudi Arabia, or other gulf states that have already normalized relations and have frequent flights into / out of Israel (like UAE, Bahrain), and those what will after Saudi Arabia normalizes relations (like Oman, for example).
    to your point about how these new planes will be used – I believe some will replace 737’s that would be retired (a few). Others will be used to “squeeze the lemon” on routes that ElAl makes work very well (such as London, Paris for example), and they’ll just add flights into those after securing slots etc. And – new routes: I can see a couple of new ones, most interestingly could be (by 2027 when planes are delivered) to Saudi Arabia. For example, direct flight into Mecca for Arab muslims who live in Israel is something long awaited – it will be filled to capacity since there are a lot of them going to the “Hajj” pilgrimage to Mecca, and today they need to take a bus to Amman, Jordan and fly from there, which is very, very inconvenient (they don’t normally fly Tel Aviv – Amman – Mecca due to the cost being prohibitive on such routing).

  10. El al while a publicly traded company. Has a minority by the government. Not surprising it’s boeing.

  11. That’s a massive purchase for El Al, which currently has about 47 planes. Are they planning to sell some of their existing planes as this order comes in?

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