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Arkia Airlines is planning to fire 70 tenured workers because of the protracted slump in tourism. The workers are employed in a range of areas.

Arkia, which has all of 550 employees, is cutting back costs because of the double whammy of contracting tourism and expanding fuel prices.

An airline spokeswoman commented that when Arkia changed hands, the buyers - namely the workers and the Nakash brothers - agreed to efficiency measures, and to their timetable.

During the third quarter company flew 144,300 passengers to and from Ben Gurion Airport, a drop of 9.5% compared with the same quarter of the year before.

The charter airlines operating locally, namely Arkia, Sun D'or (a subsidiary of El Al) and IsrAir carried 723,700 passengers during the third quarter, which was 12% down from the same period of 2005.