By Marvin G. Goldman
Since EL AL’s first scheduled flight in July 1949, it has issued numerous labels (sometimes called stickers) for promotional and identification purposes. Airline labels appeal to aviation enthusiasts as they form a historical record of the development of an airline’s logos and advertising themes.
I have more than 200 different EL AL labels in my collection, and even more exist. Each has an adhesive side, typically on the back, for placement on baggage, cargo, stationery and other items, while a few have adhesive on the front for affixing to windows. This article features a selection of some of my favorites.
EL AL’s earliest labels feature its first logo: a six-pointed star with added flying wings, designed by the noted Israeli artist, Franz Krausz. The six-pointed star has served as a Jewish symbol for several centuries, and some say it recalls the star symbol on the shield of the most famous Israelite monarch, King David. The star has adorned the tails of each EL AL aircraft since the founding of the airline shortly after the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948. The logo with added flying wings remained EL AL’s principal logo from 1949 until the creation of the EL AL “block” logo in 1962.
Let’s start with EL AL’s first four non-cargo labels.
EL AL’s first label, designed by Israeli artist Franz Krausz, 1949. 9.7cm. diameter. This beautiful label is still surprisingly common today and can be obtained on eBay at a relatively low price. Reproductions of this label (and of the next two shown) are also being sold, so if you want an original, check the description carefully.
EL AL’s second label, 1951, features its third aircraft type, a Lockheed Constellation (its first two types being the Douglas DC-4 Skymaster and Curtiss C-46 Commando). Designed by Franz Krausz. 10cm. diameter. This label is still fairly common, but less common than the first one.
EL AL’s third label and its first vertical one, early 1950s. Designed by Franz Krausz. 9cm. width x 12cm height. There are two printings of this label, with different type fonts and wing details. The one shown is by Artone Press and is uncommon. The other printing is by Rand Litho and is fairly common.
EL AL’s fourth label not designed expressly for cargo. 12x8cm. Uncommon.
EL AL started all-cargo flights in 1950 and introduced several cargo label types to give
special handling instructions and to identify cargo destinations.
In the early 1950s EL AL issued its first set of special instruction cargo labels, each with the same typeface of “EL AL” on the bottom. This one was placed on containers holding animals. 13.8×8.5cm. Other such labels stated “Danger. Do not load in passenger planes”; “Must Ride. Do not offload on route”; ‘Fragile”; and “With Care”. Each is very uncommon.
On the left is the style of EL AL’s first cargo destination label. Early 1950s. The destination would be filled in by a printed stamp or handwriting. 10.2x14cm. Very uncommon. On the right is the style of EL AL’s cargo destination label that replaced the left one later in the 1950s and into the 1960s. 10.2×14.5cm. These have the destination pre-printed. I have 17 different destinations in this set – Amsterdam, Athens, Cologne, “Diseldorf”, Geneve, Hamburg, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Munich, New York, Nicosia, Paris, Rome, Teheran, Vienna and Zurich — and there probably are more. Uncommon.
In 1961 ELAL introduced Boeing 707s to its fleet and issued the left label in the shape of an EL AL 707 tail. 6.2×8.3cm. In 1962 Otto Treuman of the Netherlands and George Him, EL AL’s design consultant, created a new block logo for EL AL that became its principal logo, and soon thereafter EL AL revised its 707 tail label to include the block logo as seen on the right. The left label is uncommon. The right one was included in seat packets in-flight and is more common.
In 1963 EL AL’s design consultant George Him created a logo that placed the EL AL block between the words ‘”EL AL” in Hebrew (read right to left). This label shows that logo with an outline of a 707, EL AL’s main aircraft type at the time. An identical label exists with a mint green background. 11.5×7.3cm. Uncommon.
About 1965 George Him modified the original EL AL flying star logo, giving it a more modern look. His revision appears on this label, along with the EL AL block logo introduced in 1962. This label was issued in at least three background colors, blue, white and red, and a similar label issued after 1970 also shows an EL AL 747. 6.5×11.5cm. Very uncommon.
In 1969, for its 20th anniversary, EL AL issued its ‘flower plane’ designed by ADVICO of Zurich with artwork by Ruedi Külling. It appears on this label as well as on EL AL desktop and wall posters. 2.5x4cm. Uncommon.
EL AL label publicizing service to the United States. Probably issued in the 1970s. Similar to a series of EL AL destination posters designed in the late 1960s by noted Israeli artist Dan Reisinger, where one of the letters in “EL AL” is transformed into a symbol of the destination. This label also was issued in poster form. 18×15.5cm. Very uncommon.
Several EL AL memorabilia, including this label, feature the Israeli character “Srulik,” created by the Israeli illustrator Kariel Gardosh, known as “Dosh.” Here Srulik. as an EL AL Captain, offers a flower welcoming visitors to Israel. Probably issued in the 1970s. 4×4.5cm. Uncommon.
The Boeing 747 entered EL AL’s fleet in 1971, and the airline issued this label featuring a 747 bearing the EL AL “linear” logo designed by Israeli artist Dan Reisinger. 25x5cm. The “linear” logo intertwines the English and Hebrew words for EL AL using the typefaces of the separate English and Hebrew block logos. The overall label design was created by Israeli artist Effi Ryvkind. This label also exists with Hebrew text and no 747 aircraft, and another variation was issued as a poster. Very uncommon.
Two EL AL labels issued in the 1970s with a play on words based on phrases from the Bible. 37.5×9.5cm. and 37.5x9cm. Very uncommon.
EL AL airmail etiquette probably issued in the 1970s. This is the only EL AL airmail sticker that I know of. 5x2cm. Fairly common.
Sheet of EL AL aircraft labels issued in 1979, with artwork by Israeli artist Danny Shalom. These scenes were also produced in postcard and poster form. Each label is 4×2.2cm. Fairly common.
Label publicizing EL AL’s inaugural flight to Cairo, March 1980. 8.3×10.3cm. Fairly common.
Label honoring 30 years of EL AL service between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, June 11, 1992. 5x5cm. Uncommon.
EL AL cargo label featuring one of its open-nose 747-200 freighters. The Hebrew text says “EL AL – Cargo” and “Efficient. Fast. Reliable.” Probably issued in the 1980s. Another version of this label exists with different Hebrew text. 32.8×23.2m. Very uncommon.
Label issued in 1988/89 with EL AL’s 40th-anniversary logo. It features the four aircraft types in EL AL’s fleet at the time, the Boeing 757, 747, 767 and 737, each a -200 series. The label also exists without the 40th-anniversary logo, and both variants were also issued in see-through form with adhesive on the front for affixing to windows. 22.5x9cm. Each variation is common.
With the arrival of Boeing 747-400s in EL AL’s fleet in 1994, EL AL revised its aircraft fleet label to show its five aircraft types at the time, all Boeing: 757-200, 747-200, 767-200, 747-400 and 737-200. This label also shows that EL AL slightly modified its aircraft livery by changing the colors of the EL AL name from black and gold to light blue and dark blue, and by having the cheatline on all its 747s come to a point near the nose to conform with that change already introduced on its other aircraft types. 19.7×12.4cm. Fairly common.
At various times EL AL has served Eilat, the Israeli resort town at the southern tip of the country by the Red Sea, in either domestic or international flights. This label promoting Eilat was probably issued in the early 2000s. 10cm. diameter. Uncommon.
This label publicizes EL AL’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners, introduced In 2017 and serving as its main long-haul aircraft type. The 787 has EL AL’s blue and silver ribbons livery, first introduced in 1999 during EL AL’s 50th anniversary. Note also that the EL AL linear logo on this label has different typography, a change made by EL AL in 2006 and in continuous use since then. This label also exists in a see-through form for application to windows. 13.7x8cm. Issued in 2017. Uncommon.
In 2018 EL AL started promoting its proposed new nonstop route from Tel Aviv to Tokyo, originally set to start at the beginning of 2020, and this label was part of that promotion. The new route was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline now plans to start flights to Tokyo in 2023. The Hebrew text in this label says: “New! Direct Flights to Tokyo”. 20×9.7cm. Uncommon.
This label announces the availability of Wi-Fi on all of EL AL’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The Hebrew text says: “So you will also be connected in the air.” Issued in 2018. 11.8cm. diameter. Uncommon.
Article text copyright 2023, Marvin G. Goldman. All images from the author’s collection.