February 19, 2020

Virus, Competition Squeeze El Al; United Steps up Kosher

Tel Aviv…For many Jewish travelers going to and from Israel, the favorite carrier has always been El Al, known for its strict security, competent flight crews and quality kosher food. However, these days the airline is expecting its revenues to plummet some $30 million in the first quarter of 2020 resulting from cancelled flights and passenger cancellations due to the Corona virus. But even before Corona, the airline faced stiff completion from low-cost European carriers and from a new aggressive campaign by American carriers to lure kosher travelers. United Airlines last week announced a major upgrade of its kosher food program.“We have proudly partnered with two local New Jersey companies Fresko and Royal Wines each of which are pillars within the kosher business community,” said Jill Kaplan, President, New York / New Jersey for United Airlines. The upgraded menus will include dishes such as fresh bagels, a cheese omelet, blintzes, chicken marsala, a kale quinoa burger and traditional bakery items like rugelach and black and white cookies. Part of the kosher expansion includes the airport experience where United is testing the addition of a hot kosher à la carte meal option in the Newark Polaris Lounge to complement the already featured kosher wines. Both United and Delta already have Hebrew speaking flight attendants on their lucrative North America – Tel Aviv routes. American Airlines is expected to launch nonstop flights from DFW International Airport to Tel Aviv in the coming months, farther putting the squeeze on Israel’s national carrier.