A trend is a trend, and El Al Israel Airlines is witnessing more late bookings this year than previously.
That's good news for the reflective traveler who in these difficult economic times is considering a trip to Israel.
The summer of 2009 — now coming to a close — may yet be the best time to make good that repeated or always-dreamed-of flight: Fares are low, especially for families. Last summer, for example, fares were in the $1,500 to $1,700 range.
Now, families can save — and in a big way! If booked before Oct. 24, round-trip flights from the United States — using either Newark, N.J., or JFK (N.Y.) airports — are $905, considerably lower than they were in the beginning of summer.
That includes fuel surcharges, but excluding taxes.
Meanwhile, round-trip business class this summer is $2,329, including fuel surcharge, but also not taxes.
The prices are a reflection that El Al (www.elal.com) is focused on increasing both tourism to Israel and its market share in 2009, according to Haim Romano, president of the airlines. At a press conference in New York, he said that El Al was committed to offering passengers considerable savings with low summer fares.
Both Romano and Offer Gat, CEO of El Al Israel Airlines in North and Central America, emphasized that the airline "sells Israel." And Philadelphia and its nearby environs are an important part of that effort.
In an interview, Gat said that he is "no stranger" to Philadelphia. He has visited the city a number of times, and recently attended the Philadelphia celebration of Israel's 61st anniversary, where El Al had a very visible presence.
Optimism is still the word, with new promotions for USA Matmid frequent flyers.
For example, a new sales offer allows club members to upgrade with points to platinum business and first class with the purchase of a lower fare ticket, as was announced recently.
But there is more to El Al than just fares — and lots of food — even though income and passenger load is the lifeline of an airline.
After all, El Al is Israel's national airline and proud of its special missions.
Last year, it flew out refugees from the Republic of Georgia during its war with Russia. And a few months ago, the airline actually flew the pope from Tel Aviv to Rome.