One of El Al Israel's Boeing 787-9s flew from the Dominican Republic back to Israel carrying fresh pineapples, after having brought medical supplies to the Caribbean island from China.
The aircraft that operated the service, 4X-EDM, was delivered in September last year and became the carrier's 12th Boeing 787-9.
El Al's Boeing 787-9 registered 4X-EDM with the special 'Jerusalem of Gold' livery, flew from Guangzhou in China to Santo Domingo via Tel Aviv. The aircraft brought over medical supplies to Santo Domingo's Las Américas International Airport on 15 May.
On its return journey back to Tel Aviv on 16 May, the Boeing 787-9 brought over fresh pineapples. Pineapples necessitate consistently warm weather to grow, making it difficult to do so in Israel as in the winter, the temperature reduces. Coupled with rainy weather, winter isn't a great season to grow pineapples in Israel. While Santo Domingo isn't rain-free, it hosts tropical temperatures year-round.
In an article dated May 2019, Fresh Plaza reported on an agreement in which the Dominican Republic became the third country with approval to export pineapples to Israel. This gave the Dominican Republic an edge against large pineapple-producing competitors Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia.
For those interested in a bit of pineapple history: the Dominican Republic has been trying to restart its pineapple industry over the last decade. This has been quite a struggle, as its nearby competitors (mentioned above) are already well positioned to compete against the Dominican Republic. Therefore, the agreement with Israel marked an important milestone in the country's pineapple projects.
The coronavirus crisis has brought about some strange but unique aircraft movements across the globe. As airlines push to support their respective countries through the launch of cargo-only services to countries like China, some have also considered the creation of new, temporary hubs.
This includes the likes of Germany's Condor, which have introduced a temporary cargo hub in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The hub was chosen thanks to its strategic location between Germany and China, and receives daily flights to and from China and Germany.
El Al Israel, on the other hand, has stuck to its Tel Aviv hub. With good reason, however, as it is well placed for services from China to cities in, for instance, the Caribbean. The airline has a number of services to and from China each week, serving cities like Jinan, Shenzhen and Guangzhou among others. On the westbound side, the carrier has already operated flights to Santo Domingo with another Boeing 787-9 currently en route to San Antonio in the United States. An additional 787-9 is on its way back to Tel Aviv from the American city.
As it stands, passenger airlines across the globe have managed to successfully operate a significant number of cargo-only flights as we move into what seems to be a 'new normal'. However, as lockdowns slowly begin to ease, a slow but gradual return to certain passenger services is expected.