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April 2, 2020 4:06 pm

El Al Sets Record for Longest Continuous Flight by Israeli Airline, Rescuing Travelers Stranded in Australia Due to Coronavirus Crisis

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An El Al Boeing 787-9 sits at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 23, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

El Al set a record on Thursday when one of its planes completed the longest direct flight ever operated by an Israeli airline.

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flew from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Melbourne in 16 hours and five minutes, and was set to break that record again on its return flight, which was expected to take 17 hours.

It was not a commercial flight, but was undertaken at the request of Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in order to bring Israelis home who had been stranded in Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic.

El Al — Israel’s flag carrier — has undertaken several such “rescue flights” in recent weeks, mostly to retrieve young Israelis who were on their traditional post-army trips at far-flung locations around the world.

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Roni Shuv, the captain of the Melbourne flight, said, “It’s amazing to see the company taking up such an important project at such a complicated time.”

“We are eight of the company’s top captains leaving for Australia,” he explained. “It’s about 17 hours of flight and 40 hours of continuous work. The team will rotate shifts.”

“We’re not staying in Australia to sleep,” he said. “Everything is for the travelers and those who want to return to their families, and the most important thing is we will bring everyone back home.”

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