el al 311.
(photo credit: El Al)
El Al will begin operating three flights a day to Eilat, president and CEO Eliezer Shkedy announced at a press conference at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, where he launched the new marketing campaign and presented the company’s vision of increased tourism to the south.
“This is an important move for Israel, and especially for the Negev and the city of Eilat. We aim to substantially increase tourist visits to Eilat and offer passengers a quality product at a high standard,” said Shkedy. “The move will bring thousands of additional tourists to Eilat and also bring Eilat residents closer to the center of the country.”
Shkedy reported that the airline would be using Boeing 737s from its standard fleet for the new route and that the flights, which start August 1, were scheduled in a way that would be most convenient for passengers arriving from foreign destinations.
“We are convinced that our entrance to the Eilat route will improve the quality of service on the line in general,” said Shkedy.
Shkedy also laid out the new route’s pricing scheme, offering different fares for each type of passenger on the 55-minute flight.
Foreign tourists who want to fly to Eilat directly after arriving to Israel will be charged $20 for the extra leg and will be provided with a shuttle to take them from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. El Al passengers who want to remain in the center for a few days can purchase an added leg to Eilat for $30.
The introductory price for Israeli passengers ranges from NIS 99-200 each way, depending on how early passengers make the bookings.
Soldiers in uniform will fly for NIS 70.
El Al will also be offering special discounts for regular travelers on the route, offering 14-flight multi-passes for NIS 149 for Eilat residents and NIS 189 for others. El Al will be offering three daily flights Sunday through Thursday, a Friday morning flight, and Saturday evening flight as well. Shkedy said that while the company would be happy to offer more, it was limited in its carrying capacity by Transportation Ministry regulations.
El Al anticipates flying 15,000 passengers to Eilat during its first year of operation and looks forward to doubling and tripling the number in subsequent years.
El Al joins two existing providers, Arkia and Israir, in offering flights to Eilat, but Shkedy downplayed the chances of a price war between the carriers, preferring to focus on the advantages that introducing a new carrier would provide for all of the actors involved.
“We believe that this move will benefit everybody as we anticipate that it will substantially boost tourism to Israel. Our introduction will ‘increase the pie,’ so that other carriers will also enjoy a boost in ticket sales, Eilat’s tourism industry, which has experienced stagnation in the past few years, will be injected with new vigor and the residents will enjoy the increase in job production as a result of the rise in tourism numbers,” said Shkedy.
The route’s launch will be accompanied by a widespread media campaign under the slogan, “Like flying abroad, only shorter,” and intends to play on El Al’s strength as an international carrier.
The 14-second commercial shows the whole flight process in short
segments lasting fractions of a second each. El Al’s marketing vice
president Eyal Shavit said that the idea behind the television
commercial was to convey a message of speed and efficiency.
In September, El Al, together with the Tourism Ministry and the Israel
Hotel Association, will start an aggressive campaign directed at the
international market. Shavit said that the primary target audience was
European vacationers, but that the route would also be attractive to
the Jewish market in places like North America and Australia.
“Eilat is a destination in its own right, especially for tourists from
Europe. For the North American traveler to Israel, Eilat can now be
added very easily to one’s Israel holiday,” said Eli Cohen, vice
president for commercial and industry affairs. “Eilat is famous for its
resort atmosphere, summer-like temperatures all year long and high
level of service offered at all of the hotels. With the addition of El
Al offering this route, we expect an increase in travelers to Eilat.”