El Al's business passengers witnessed the inauguration of the new King David business lounge at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris last week, where officials took advantage of the opportunity to present the airline's plans for the coming years. The bottom line is asceticism out, luxury in.
During the inauguration ceremony in Paris, Israel (Izzy) Borovich, El Al's Chairman of the Board noted that the company views its business passengers as a primary growth driver for coming years. This strategy comes following a growth of nine percent in business travel during the past year.
For this reason, added El Al's Director of Marketing Rami Levi, the airline has decided to place an emphasis on several aspects relevant to frequent business flyers: Higher frequency of flights (200 direct flights per week to 40 destinations), easy access to connecting flights in conjunction with foreign airlines, simplification of price structures, upgrading of the business sector's pre flight lounge services.
El Al also recently purchased two Boeing 777 aircraft at a cost of USD 250 million dollars.
Home away from home
Topping the list of El Al's European destinations is France, with 18 weekly flights to and from this destination (during the summer months 22 weekly flights). The majority of these flights land in Paris, yet several flights also land in Marseilles every week. In the past six years there has been an increase in the number of passengers flying on this route. In the summer of 2005 a record number of flights was recorded.
For these reasons and others, it is clear why El Al and Bank Leumi decided to invest USD 350,000 in building a business lounge in Paris, of all places.
The Parisian lounge offers the same services as in Israel; all furnishings were designed in Israel and flown to Paris where they were built by Israeli carpenters. The lounge offers small tables with computer access, a bar and even a business room provided by Bank Leumi offering passengers computer services, financial information as well as access to the Bank's banking services.
Still, there are some luxuries that are only available at the Israeli business lounge including spa services that place the Ben Gurion lounge alongside other prominent airports worldwide and include Heathrow in London, Schiphol in Amsterdam, Changi in Singapore and Bangkok's new airport – all of whom provide spa services in their luxury lounges.