El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia

Mind the Tech NY 2024
El Al CEO: "We're waiting for foreign airlines to return to Israel because we can't meet all the demand"

At Calcalist and Bank Leumi’s Mind the Tech conference in New York, El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia spoke about the way the company dealt with the withdrawal of foreign airlines from Israel following the war: "We routinely received 6,000 calls a day, and now the numbers are 60,000 calls a day."

Since October 7, the national airline El Al has been the only company that continued to fly in and out of Israel throughout this difficult time. Dina Ben Tal Ganancia, CEO of El Al, who spoke with CTech’s James Spiro at Calcalist and Bank Leumi’s Mind the Tech Conference in New York, said that El Al is ready to tackle any challenge.
Ben Tal Ganancia overcame the difficulties of a single airline operating in extremely difficult situations that included an accelerated increase in the number of flights, flight cancellations, the addition of flights at an accelerated rate and tens of thousands of inquiries from travelers.
El Al, like all airlines, is still recovering from the pandemic and now there is a new war - what lessons were learned then to prepare you for this moment?
"Three years ago, the pandemic canceled the flights and people stayed at home. The airlines lost billions of dollars and El Al also lost money. Everyone is starting to recover and we made plans. First step: increase the number of flights. We are still at 85% of the number of flights compared to normal. It is very important to us to build up from the inside. We learned the importance of flexibility and moving flights and people. There is still a lack of planes and the pandemic had a very big effect on demand and supply. To connect Israel to the world we need to get more planes. We have fewer workers than before the pandemic, as well as pilots and technical professionals. We did not expect the war to come and we did not anticipate its impact on us. There was never such a time when only one company flew to Israel. We previously routinely received 6,000 calls a day, and now we get 60,000 calls a day. We built a war room, added more people and connected to all government ministries.
"We learned that there is no substitute for people and at the same time we developed digital tools that helped us during the pandemic. There was a big wave of flight cancellations and we had technological tools that helped us a lot. We developed an artificial intelligence tool to search for available seats at the highest speed that makes it possible for anyone to find flights."
What plans are there for the future, to deal with crew shortage, passenger demand and working with international authorities while maintaining safety?
"El Al had a successful year. We ended recent quarters with very high profits. We are waiting for foreign airlines to return to flying to Israel because we do not have the ability to meet all the demand. El Al was here for the state and we were pushed to the limit. We want to integrate AI into all our tools to connect tourists back to Israel."
Watch her full remarks in the video above.