21st November 2016 London, UK
Rolls-Royce for EL AL: How we landed the biggest UK-Israel trade deal in history
I’ve always been fascinated by jet aircraft, especially those used by commercial airlines. As a kid, it was a real holiday for me when my father would take me for a drive on a Sunday to see the aircraft taking off and landing at London Airport – now Heathrow.
More recently my interest has been more focussed on which airline will get me to my destination on time. And so I welcomed the news that the Israeli airline EL AL was looking to replace its ageing fleet of 747s.
EL AL chose the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the airframe. From the UK’s perspective this was an opportunity, as it now meant El Al could choose between two engines for the new fleet – one manufactured in America, or the Trent 1000 engine from Rolls-Royce.
Naturally, we – the Ambassador and the DIT team in Tel Aviv – went out to bat for Rolls-Royce. For its part, Rolls-Royce prepared its bid meticulously – they remained cool and un-phased during the whole process, despite the knowledge that the American State Department was bringing out its big guns to influence EL AL to buy American.
After two years of negotiations we succeeded. EL AL chose the Trent engine, giving Rolls-Royce a massive £1 billion win – and the UK its largest ever trade deal with Israel. David Maimon, President & CEO of EL AL, said that “there is a natural synergy between Boeing and Rolls-Royce”.
For EL AL, the Trent engine was right, the price was right and, no less important, working with Rolls-Royce felt right. Now we just have to wait and see if the new Dreamliner will enable EL AL to get me to my destination on time – and with extra leg room.