El Al looks towards adding 787s and contemplates narrowbody fleet replacement

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Israeli flag carrier El Al is said to be in negotiations with aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the acquisition of three more Boeing 787s, with options for a further six aircraft to bolster its long-haul fleet. According to the Tel Aviv-based carrier, the airline’s fleet plan for 2028 to 2030 currently indicates a requirement for 22 787s, which represents an increase from the existing fleet size of 16 airframes. 

El Al is already expected to increase its 787 fleet to 19 of the type by the middle of 2026, with three more 787s due to arrive – one in the second quarter of 2024 and a further two more at the end of 2025 or the start of 2026. The airline currently operates four 787-8s which each seat 239 passengers, plus 12 787-9s which accommodate 271 passengers.  

During a recent investors’ briefing, executives at the airline confirmed that the carrier is currently negotiating with the US planemaker to purchase three 787s with options on another six. Each of its 787s is fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. 

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In the same briefing, the Israeli carrier stated that it was entering what it referred to as “the last mile” of its narrowbody fleet replacement and renewal campaign. El Al currently operates a short-haul fleet comprising 24 Boeing 737s, made up of 15 737-800s and nine 737-900s. The carrier has said that the replacement process, planned to commence in 2026, will see that total increase to between 28 and 31 aircraft by 2030.  

El Al says it is still in the process of reviewing offers it has received from aircraft and engine manufacturers following a request for proposals (RFP) issued in late 2023. However, despite the airline’s plans and requirements, the carrier’s management is mindful of the current issues facing the commercial aircraft manufacturing sector, none more so than bulging order books and ongoing supply chain issues faced by both Boeing and Airbus. 

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“There is a growing demand for aircraft orders from the aircraft manufacturers,” said a spokesperson for the airline. “As a result, the company estimates that there may be delays in receiving new aircraft, narrowbody, and widebody, from the manufacturers.” 

In the meantime, El Al is pressing ahead with its scheduled upgrade program for the interiors of its four twin-aisle Boeing 777-200ERs. A pair of these aircraft have already been fitted with the upgraded interiors as featured on the carrier’s 787 fleet, but it intends to have a third aircraft completed by 2025, increasing the aircraft’s total capacity from 279 to 313 seats. 

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