Shabbat dilemma on El Al flight

El Al plane forced to deal with unplanned dilemma of keeping the Sabbath versus aiding passengers. What did it do?

Uzi Baruch,

El Al airplane
El Al airplane
Photo: Moshe Shai / Flash90

An El Al flight from New York to Israel landed on Friday in Canada due to a passenger who was not feeling well.

Journalist Amalia Duek reported on social media that, as a result of landing in Canada, the company was forced to cope with the need to return hundreds of passengers to Israel despite the impending onset of Shabbat (the Sabbath).

The plane, according to the report, continued to Athens while the religious passengers were put up in hotels in Canada. At the same time, the company specifically sent two Sun d'Or planes to Athens to collect passengers who are not Sabbath-observant, so that the El Al plane would not fly on Shabbat.

El Al’s policy from the time it was a government company, as well as after its privatization, has been not to hold official flights on the Sabbath. However, over the years, its subsidiary, Sun d’Or, has carried out charter flights on Saturdays.

El Al's large plane continued its flight from Athens to Israel with the crew and landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport after the start of the Sabbath - shortly after the two planes specially brought to Athens had landed in Israel. The El Al plane also brought the baggage of the passengers from New York, as the plane had not been unloaded over the course of its journey.

El Al's response: "Passengers who wished to return to Israel during the Sabbath were referred to another operator's flights. El Al returned on a non-commercial flight as a cargo flight to Israel with crew members only. Sabbath-keeping passengers will return to Israel this evening. El Al does not fly passengers on Shabbat, and so it was this time, as well."




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