It’s been 2 years since El Al announced they were cutting direct flights to Canada. Will they ever return?

The last El Al direct flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv prepares to board passengers on Oct. 27, 2022 at Pearson International Airport. (Ellin Bessner photo)

Like the Taylor Swift song about her ex-boyfriend, El Al airlines is likely “never, ever getting back together” with Canada—at least in the form of nonstop flights. Two years ago, on June 21, 2022, the Israeli carrier announced it was shuttering direct service to Toronto after 40 years of service to Canada. The airline closed its office in Toronto, fired 30 employees and abandoned its domestic airport infrastructure.

But El Al’s new senior vice president for the Americas, Simon Newton-Smith, claims the company hasn’t forgotten about the Canadian market, which he calls “a huge contributor to our overall sales.” He wants to figure out why El Al couldn’t make money here, despite strong demand—at least before the COVID pandemic ravaged international air travel.

Newton-Smith came to Toronto on June 5. It marked his first Canadian visit since being appointed shortly after Oct. 7, 2023. His first weeks on the job coincided with a burgeoning war in Gaza, which, alongside broader geopolitical tensions with Lebanon and Iran, decimated foreign tourism to Israel. El Al, however, has reported record profits so far this year—because other international carriers stopped servicing the country, including Air Canada.

Now, as the summer travel season kicks into high gear, Newton-Smith joins The CJN Daily to share his plans and insight into the future of El Al’s Canadian operations.

What we talked about:

  • Read more about El Al closing its Canadian operations in 2022, in The CJN
  • Hear the people on the last El Al flight leaving Toronto on Oct 27, 2022, on The CJN Daily

Credits:

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.