Israeli airline El Al is gearing up to introduce its first fully refurbished Boeing 777-200ER into revenue service.
This much-anticipated aircraft, received by the carrier in July 2007, is set to take off on its maiden passenger flight on August 1, bound for Paris. Following that, it will embark on a long-haul journey to Bangkok.
Dubbed its ‘second life,’ the rejuvenated aircraft will make stops in some destinations during its initial weeks of service, including Dubai, London Heathrow, Phuket, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, and Johannesburg.
The real thrill is yet to come as El Al plans to upgrade six more of its Boeing 777-200ERs, which will then fly from Tel Aviv to the USA. This market is crucial as it provides a significant number of seats worldwide.
Currently, El Al serves five U.S. destinations, including Boston, New York-JFK, Newark, Miami, and Los Angeles. The airline will expand its reach further by adding Fort Lauderdale to its list of non-stop flight destinations starting September 13.
Initially, these flights will be available on selected days during the Jewish High Holidays, lasting through October. However, come Spring 2024, this service will be available year-round, opening up a world of possibilities for travelers.
The refurbishment process for the Boeing 777 was an intricate endeavor, spanning five months to complete. The aircraft underwent a complete overhaul, leaving no part untouched. Notably, the previous First Class section, which had a 2-2-2 cross-section layout, has been replaced entirely.
New Business Class
In Business Class, El Al revamped the hard product to mirror the one featured on its Dreamliner fleet. The outdated 2-3-2 configuration made way for a much-improved 1-2-1 layout, ensuring all passengers enjoy unobstructed access to the aisle.
The chosen Business Class seats for the upgraded Boeing 777 are the Safran Optima Elite, better suited to the Triple Seven’s larger fuselage. Seven rows, accommodating 28 seats, have been expertly installed.
New Premium and Economy Class
Moving back, where the previous 777s boasted 14 Premium Economy seats, the cabin has been enlarged to accommodate up to 32 seats, arranged in a 2-4-2 cross-section.
The Economy Class has also undergone a significant transformation, with 253 seats now available, including 63 seats offering extra legroom.
Nevertheless, the shift from a nine-abreast configuration (3-3-3) to a ten-abreast one (3-4-3) does reduce seat width. Despite this, the modifications have increased the aircraft’s capacity from 279 to 313 seats, ultimately enhancing passenger travel options.
El Al decided to temporarily park its fleet of Boeing 777s back in November 2019, opting instead for the modern and efficient Boeing 787-8s and 787-9s. In addition, the airline had previously retired its Boeing 747-400s from service.
The aging Triple Sevens, nearing an average age of 20, were initially destined to be sold or converted into freighters. However, the sudden surge in air travel demand witnessed during spring 2022, following two years of the Covid pandemic and travel restrictions, prompted El Al to swiftly bring these workhorses back into service.
For the past year, these aircraft, with their outdated interiors, primarily operated leisure routes, serving destinations like Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand or medium-range rotations to European capitals. Long-range services were left to the newer Dreamliners.
However, with the recent cabin upgrade, El Al’s rejuvenated Boeing 777s are now ready to soar to new heights and cater to the diverse needs of travelers worldwide.