El Al Israel Airlines, Israel’s flag carrier, announced today that it will begin nonstop flights between Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Flights will begin in the fourth quarter. El Al will fly the route three times per week using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“The acquisition of the Dreamliner enables us to expand our long-haul network,” said David Maimon, El Al’s chief executive. “San Francisco is an important strategic city for El Al. Our target is to take the business segment.”

The new route doesn’t come without competition. United Airlines already flies between TLV and SFO; it began flights in 2016 to accommodate Israel’s up-and-coming tech industry. El Al has also faced fierce competition from low-cost carriers in the recent months.

El Al’s North American network currently includes Boston, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. All destinations return to Tel Aviv.

Maimon says that El Al hopes to add additional long-haul routes later this year. He went on to say that El Al would have served SFO sooner if it had had the proper aircraft to do so. In 2017, El Al started taking delivery of 16 new Dreamliner aircraft that will be used to replace the carrier’s aging long-haul fleet; El Al hopes that the new aircraft will help to regain customers lost to competition boasting newer fleets.

Maimon will step down from his post as El Al’s CEO later this month. He says that a replacement will be named shortly.

This isn’t the only change being made at El Al this year. The carrier said that it is unifying all European flights under the El Al brand, effectively retiring its low-cost brand, UP, that flew to five destinations across Europe. It will also update its fare structure on Europe-bound flights to include a new and less expensive “lite” option for passengers traveling without checked bags.

The airline plans to refurbish its Boeing 737 aircraft servicing Europe with new seats in both economy and businesses class. Changes should be complete sometime next year.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons