El Al Israel Airways and American Airlines announced a code-share agreement in Tel Aviv on Tuesday that will eventually allow passengers to fly to 22 North American destinations with the option for a stopover in Central Europe. "The code-share agreement between El Al and American Airlines is the most comprehensive and far-reaching agreement ever between El Al and any foreign airline," El Al chairman Israel Borovich said. El Al and American reached the agreement in December 2007 and it is scheduled to go into effect in September. It will allow passengers to fly to a wide range of North American destinations via European or American airports when purchasing a ticket from either airline. During the first stage, passengers will be able to fly via one of El Al's direct North American or European destinations to cities such as Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, DC. A few weeks later, in the second stage, the choice of destinations will expand to Orlando, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Denver, Honolulu, Montreal and more. "We are proud to link up with aviation giant American Airlines, a company which has had a fine reputation for over 80 years. Its size and range of services speak for themselves," El Al president Chaim Romano said. "The code-share agreement between El Al and American Airlines is an important, major strategic step that will open up a broad range of travel possibilities for Israeli passengers." American Airlines operates approximately 1,000 airplanes and 4,000 daily flights to 250 destinations in more than 40 countries. It employs about 85,000 people, including 10,000 pilots. In 2007, American carried about 119 million passengers. The company's main hubs are in Miami, Chicago and Dallas. It founded and is still a member of the oneworld airline alliance. Maria Sebastian, American's vice president for sales and marketing in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the new code-share agreement with El Al expanded travel options for their clients between North America and Israel. The agreement allows the passengers to choose routes that combine a direct flight to North America in one direction, with a stop and a stay, if the passenger chooses, in one of El Al's key stops in Europe such as London, Paris, Madrid, Zurich, Barcelona and other cities. The transatlantic legs between North America and Europe, in either direction, will be on American Airlines flights using an El Al ticket, meaning passengers will only have to check in once - at the point of origin. The agreement upgrades El Al's Premium Class passengers and promises them first-class seats on American Airlines's connecting flights as well. In addition, members of El Al's and American's frequent-flyer clubs will be able to accumulate points on connecting flights within North America. In addition, the airlines will permit joint access to their airport lounges for first- and business-class passengers. "The agreement is expected to appreciably improve mobility and flexibility for the business sector to various commercial centers in North America, and from them to Israel, as well as for the tourist traffic to Israel from American cities in the Midwest, South and West," said Rami Levy, El Al vice president for commerce and industry affairs.