El Al - Daniel Bar-On - 04012012
An El Al passenger jet. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
Text size

Local travel agents should halt payments to bankrupt Hungarian airline Malev, the Israel Association of Travel Agents stated on Monday.

"We believe travel agents have the right to halt payments that should have been made to the airline on February 15 so long as the customers [for whom payment is owed] are stranded abroad or have not yet left the country," said Association of Travel Agents head Yossi Fatael. He ordered travel agents not to give Malev any money from payments made over the last month.

The Hungarian national airline halted operations suddenly on Friday after Israel and Ireland blocked planes from taking off due to unpaid debts. The airline owes its creditors a total of $270 million. Meanwhile, El Al is preparing to fly stranded Malev customers between Budapest and Tel Aviv.

The Israeli airline may offer one-way tickets from Budapest to Ben-Gurion International Airport at special prices, and will be using larger planes for the route over the next two weeks, it said.

Malev had operated a daily flight from Israel to Budapest that transported 106,300 people in 2011, according to Israel Airports Authority data.

A senior airline industry official said Malev's local operations had been based on cheap flights between Eastern Europe and Israel.