The Sky’s the Limit — but Not Air Fares


About 60 percent of American Jews have reportedly never visited Israel. If the price of an airline ticket was holding them back, that cost of flying to the Jewish state has been greatly reduced, at least on El Al Israel Airlines.

Of course, the plummeting economy and steep fall in the price of oil also has something to do with it.

This summer, families from the Greater Philadelphia area can travel roundtrip on El Al from nearby Newark International Airport or John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for $1,199 in economy class and $3,699 in business. All fuel surcharges are included.

These fares, are available for departure from June 20 through Aug. 19, but must be purchased on or before April 7.

Considering that last year, economy tickets were as much as $2,000, that's a considerable reduction using anyone's math.

Why the price cuts?

Like so many, El Al is feel- ing the pinch of the shattered global economy. Offer Gat, CEO of El Al in North and Central America, based in New York, explained: "We see and anticipate a substantial decline in traffic from the U.S. to Israel," and "we are ready to sell fares at a lower price."

And not just for the summer, either. The company announced "huge savings" in economy and platinum business class the remainder of this spring.

Right now, El Al passengers departing on nonstop flights from Newark or JFK to Israel before March 31 can pay $633 round-trip for economy class and $3,199 roundtrip for business, including fuel surcharges.

The airline is offering round-trip spring fares in economy and business classes from April 9 through June 19; on nonstop flights from Newark/JFK, the economy class fare is $803 and business class is $3,599.

Gat pointed out that El Al is working on making it easier for Philadelphia-area residents to get to Newark airport, transportation-wise, with shuttle buses a possibility.

Sky and the City

On the Newark to Tel Aviv flight, El Al has scheduled one of its four 747-400 jumbo aircraft — this one to be called Rishon le Tzion after the town in Israel.

The new aircraft will have advanced sleeper seats in first and business class, as well as enhanced seats in economy.

The airline — now celebrating more than 60 years of service — has also upgraded its lounge at the Newark airport. And it announced that in its King David Lounge at Ben-Gurion Airport, guests can relax with a 20-minute spa treatment of their choice for free (reservations are suggested.) The massage and treatments are given by a therapist from the Carmel Forest Spa Resort near Haifa.

Gat also believes that land prices in Israel will come down this summer as that nation's economy tightens its belt due to the global situation.

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