An unexpected outcome of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, El Al Israel Airlines finally operated the long awaited its first direct commercial flight between Israel and Australia on March 24, 2020.

El Al’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner took off from Perth Airport (PER), Australia, at 20:45 on March 24, 2020. Some 14 hours 12 minutes later, having covered a (great circle) distance of 11,077 kilometers, the Flight LY88 landed at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

The Flight LY88 repatriated 230 Israeli citizens from Australia, before the country closed its borders amid efforts to contain the coronavirus spread. 

Despite the fact that the flight was operated on a one-time basis, it was a commercial flight nevertheless. Tickets to it sold within 15 minutes, according to reports in Israeli media. 

Previously, El Al announced its intention to step into the Australian market and launch direct flights between Israel and Melbourne back in December 2019. However, before committing to the route, the airline was planning to operate trial flights beforehand. Consequently, the trial flights were to commence in April 2020. 

Previously, the shortest and least time-consuming way of reaching Australia for El Al’s passengers was to grab a connection in Bangkok (BKK) or Hong Kong (HKG).

Project Sunrise, seemingly, created magic within the industry. Trialing 19-hour flights, Qantas for sure put a lot of attention into getting the word out, especially considering that there are other flights with similar flight hours. At the same time, has it created a trend of airlines announcing trial flights? Exploring the PR magic behind ultra-long-range trial flights: