El Al Israel Airlines has signed an agreement with German transport and logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel International AG to operate 150 cargo flights over the next six months. The deal is worth tens of millions of Israeli shekels. In normal times, cargo flights represent less than 10 percent of El Al's operations.
Under the terms of the deal with Kuehne +Nagel, El Al will operate the cargo flights between China and Italy via Israel between now and October. The flights will transport cargos to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and the first flights will start in the coming few days with two daily flights. Some of the flights, after emptying out their cargo in Italy, will then call in at other Western European destinations in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland to bring cargo back to Israel."
El Al has recently converted two Boeing 777 passenger jets into cargo planes following the outbreak of the crisis and these planes will make their debut flights with their new configuration this week. El Al is also using Dreamliners as cargo plans with good stored in the hold and on passenger seats.
El Al halted all scheduled passenger flights last month and has since only operated a handful of rescue flights from distant parts of the world such as Australia, India, Peru and Colombia to bring home stranded Israelis. Scheduled passenger flights are not expected to resume before at least May 9.
El Al director of cargo Ronen Shapira said, "This project allows El Al to open regular cargo flights for imports from Europe on a daily basis from London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Zurich. Adding the flights represents a major addition in capcity for importing from Europe and this will let Israeli industry and importers get businesses back on track as the Israeli economy returns to work."