May 24th-25th, 1991 - Operation "Solomon"

taken from Flight International, 5-11 June 1991:

"Israeli AF/El Al Ethiopian airlift smashes passenger-load record"

"In a record-breaking airlift, the Israeli Air Force, aided by El Al, brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa to Israel - 1,200 of them in one 747 - within 33h just days before the capital fell to rebel troops."
"Some of the flights were performed by a specially configured El Al 747, carrying 1,200 passengers. The top-secret Operation Solomon began on 24 May when an air force C-130 Hercules brought the first group of high-ranking Israeli officers and experts to Addis Ababa International Airport. The airlift was completed a few hours before the first rebel units reached the airport area."
"The group, head by deputy chief of staff Gen Amnon Shahak, set up a command post in the airport while Israeli special forces and paratroops secured the runway and airfield perimiter. An Israeli mobile air traffic control unit performed advisory control, parallel to that given by the airport's tower."
"By noon on 24 May preparations were complete and the green light was given for the first aircraft to land. In the next 24h 18 air force C-130s and eight Boeing 707s aided by nine El Al aircraft - three 747s, four 767s and two 757s - flew 14,000 Jews from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. All El Al aircraft had their logos covered."
"An El-Al 747-200C Combi was converted to passenger configuration, with 760 seats. With the arm rests folded, these seats allowed 1,200 of the new Israeli immigrants to be crammed into the aircraft. (The previous record was 674 people in a Quantas 747 after a cyclone hit Darwin.) The 747 was on the ground at Addis Ababa for only 37min before leaving with the record number of passengers."
"The passenger-configured 747s carried 920 passengers on their 454 seats and on the floor, while the 767s carried 430 on their 224 seats and floor. The 757s carried 360 passengers on thier 197 seats and in any available space. An Ethiopian Airlines 757 made one flight to Tel Aviv as part of the airlift. The air force's 707s had their seats removed and rubber mattresses put on the cabin floors. Each 707 carried 500 passengers and 180 passengers were packed into air force C-130s."
"The Israeli authorities had notified some Arab and African countries along the Tel Aviv - Addis Ababa route about the traffic near their airspace."

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