Israeli flag carrier's new owner looks to replenish its fleet
A new window of opportunity has opened for Airbus at El Al, as the Israeli airline's new owner prepares to begin negotiations with suppliers about replacing part of its all-Boeing fleet.
Knafaim-Arkia Holdings - parent of Arkia Airlines - took control of the Israeli flag carrier in December and is considering a partial revamp of the fleet. It is planned that El Al's four relatively young Boeing 747-400s, which are operated on transatlantic services, will be converted to cargo configuration, while its ageing 747-200s and 767-200ERs will be phased out. A new- generation type would be acquired to replace all three models.
The Airbus A340 is seen as a serious contender to replace the 747-400s, but Airbus will have to beat intense competition from Boeing, El Al's traditional supplier. The carrier already operates four 777-200ERs.
Several years ago, El Al selected the Airbus A330 for its medium-capacity widebody requirement, but the order was never finalised as the airline came under political pressure to continue with its policy of buying from the USA.
Airbus has not officially renewed its marketing in Israel, but local sources say that the European manufacturer "is following the developments". El Al is expected to opt for a leasing package.
ARIE EGOZI / TEL AVIV
Source: Flight International