Israeli Upstart: MAOF Airlines
Note: Information on this airline is hard to find and conflicting so any extra details or updates anyone can provide would be welcome.
The roots of MAOF go back to 1969 when it was formed as an air-taxi and ground handling operation by Meir Amit, Y Gadish, A Reichmann and A. Barkol with a single Cessna 172. They ran a small travel agency from Tel Aviv but decided to expand in the early 80s when they were granted a license from the Israeli authorities to begin charter operations.
Formed properly in June 1981 MAOF Airlines became the first independent charter airline in Israel. Yitzhak Gadish was the leading figure in the airline and with a pair of Boeing 720s began cheap flights to Europe. Destinations served included Basel, Trieste, Munich, Frankfurt / Main, Nice, Palermo, Hamburg, Paris Orly, London / Luton, Naples, Palma de Mallorca and Düsseldorf.
MAOF’s 720s were both originally delivered to American Airlines in 1960 and spent most of their careers together. They were both sold to the British independent Invicta International in 1974 and served a variety of leases to carriers like Cyprus Airways before being acquired by Monarch Airlines in March 1977 and January 1978 respectively. MAOF acquired them both in October 1981 and painted them into its rather garish red and blue scheme.
El Al responded to the new competition by lobbying the Transportation ministry, which restricted charter flights thereafter. They also undertook predatory pricing practices and operated flights at a loss. At the time El Al was in poor financial shape and did not want any local competition.
The 720s were joined in April 1982 by an ex-Pan Am 707-139B, originally built for Cubana in 1959. The aircraft had never been delivered due to the Castro takeover and was instead leased to Western Airlines and then acquired by Pan Am in 1962. The timing was unfortunate as on June 6, 1982 Israel invaded neighbouring Lebanon. The resulting economic trouble had a negative impact across the board to the extent that even El Al itself, which had been unprofitable since 1975, was temporarily closed. El Al even went so far as to lease the 707 from MAOF in October 1982, until January 1983, when they were weathering a strike.
The 707-139B seems to have served with MAOF until the end of the airline. It was later used in the movie Delta Force, starring Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris, in basic MAOF colours making this the most well known aspect of the entire airline's history.
A 707-331B was leased in June 1983 but was replaced by another full-length 707 in April 1984. This was a 1970 build ex-BOAC 707-336B. Unfortunately, the competition from El Al and the economic problems were too much for MAOF, which entered bankruptcy on November 9, 1984. At its closure it owed around $10 million, with $4 million owed to the government, and the remainder to banks.
It seems El Al even the went after the owner through the courts. The failure of MAOF cleared one of the obstacles for El Al to get back on its feet after its four-month grounding. El Al would once again face competition in the late 80s, this time from the US airline Tower Air, which it also attacked ruthlessly. It wouldn’t be until the mid-90s that Israir would find a way to survive the Israeli flag carrier's attentions.
MAOF Airlines. Airlines-Airliners.com
Israeli Privately-owned Charter Airline Declares Bankruptcy. JTA.com
The Bottom Line / SO What's New? Haaretz.com
Yes & No to Dankner. Globes.co.il
5/5/2020 03:57:56 am
Nice write up. Didn't think anyone still remembered MAOF.
5/7/2021 08:31:35 pm
Please can you tell me what the logo and badge is on fuselage side below cheat-line in Israeli text and the wings badge/emblem?
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: