An El Al plane.
An El Al plane. Photo by Bloomberg
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Negotiations over employment terms between the management of El Al Israel Airlines and pilots have broken down, representatives of the pilots said on Sunday.

The impasse could lead to schedule disruptions in the near future.

Following the pilots' announcement on Sunday morning, management said it had received no notice of a breakdown of talks from the employees' representatives or from the Histadrut labor federation.

The pilots are demanding changes in their collective labor agreement in advance of steps due to be instituted to streamline the airlines' operations.

The pilots say management is seeking to limit the extent to which they operate professionally, and are attempting to intervene in decision making that up to now have been exclusively theirs in the cockpit. They cite, for example, management's desire to intervene in decisions to upgrade passengers' status to a higher class of service on the plane based on available space.

The pilots claim management has not responded to their demands, despite promising to do so.

El Al lost $49.5 million last year and $23.5 million in the first quarter of 2012. The airline, which was privatized in 2003, is in the process of cutting back costs in response to the financial situation.

Even prior to talks on streamlining, management had been negotiating with labor representatives associated with the Histadrut over cutbacks, which by nature involve changes to the collective labor agreement with El Al staff.

The proposed cuts include reducing the number of free or discounted airline tickets given to employees and their families.

The airline sought to institute changes in May of this year, but following the intervention of Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy agreed to defer them to enable the talks with the employees to run their course.