Proposed El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) flights linking Tel Aviv with Melbourne Tullamarine have moved a step closer after the airline and Victoria State Government signed a letter of intent (LOI) to begin services by June 2024.

The airline first indicated it was interested in flying to the Victorian capital prior to the pandemic. In late 2019, it flagged flights to begin in the second quarter of 2020. The idea was re-floated in mid-2022 amid a recovering aviation sector and the prospects of Saudi Arabia and Oman opening their airspace to Israeli airlines.

At the LOI signing ceremony in Tel Aviv on March 15, the state's minister for industry and innovation, Ben Carroll, said El Al would join a list of airlines resuming or starting flights to Melbourne that have been "supported" by the state government. The flights will add 44,000 seats a year in and out of the airport, he said, boosting the state's economy by AUD48 million Australian dollars (USD32 million) annually.

"We’re partnering with El Al, Israel’s national airline, to back direct flights between Melbourne and Tel Aviv," he said. "More international flights to such an important trading partner will power our economy and boost our status as a key destination for tourism, trade, and investment."

There are no direct air links between Australia and Israel despite a significant Israeli diaspora residing in the country, with the largest population concentrated in Melbourne. El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia said: "We look forward to launching our first ever non-stop flights to Melbourne as we position Victoria as Israel’s gateway to Australia. We thank the Victoria government for its support."

The recent decisions by Saudi Arabia and Oman to allow Israeli airlines to use their airspace will trim the route's flight time by around two hours in each direction, making it a commercially viable prospect. Taking the time savings into account, flying time to Melbourne would be around 15 hours, while the flights to Tel Aviv would take about 17 hours. The LOI calls for three round trips per week using B787 aircraft. El Al operates both B787-8s and B787-9s.

In addition to El Al Israel Airlines, support from the Victoria government has seen Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Bamboo Airways, VietJetAir, Scoot, Emirates, and Etihad Airways all start, restart, or increase capacity on their flights to and from Melbourne since the pandemic ended.