Business in Brief

El Al closing unprofitable Ukraine routes

El Al has closed its route between Tel Aviv and Odessa, on the grounds that it didn't pay. Today it will stop flying to Dnipropetrovsk, also in Ukraine. The airline, which was privatized in 2003, stopped flying to Brazil at the end of November. Nor is that the end: El Al is weeding out other unprofitable routes to Europe. The sky-high cost of jet fuel requires El Al, which made a $66 million loss in the third quarter, to consider its destinations carefully, said CEO Eliezer Shkedi. (Zohar Blumenkrantz )

Dear Strauss, the boycott looms large

Fifty demonstrators protesting the prices of Strauss Group foodstuffs targeted the house of Strauss Israel's Zio Balas in Ramat Ishay yesterday. The day before they'd demonstrated outside the home of group CEO Gadi Lessin in Hod Hasharon. Their next target will be Ofra Strauss, group chairwoman, indicated Benny Groverman of the "Dear Israel" movement. The group demonstrated outside her house four months ago and set up tents to spend the weekend. But Strauss came out to speak with them, and after a six-hour dialog, they folded their flags and packed it in. This week Strauss announced price cuts of 5% to 10%, which did not satisfy. "Gadi, get Zehavit Cohen's phone number. Soon you'll have time on your hands," advises one placard, referring to the Tnuva chairwoman who quit as the protest raged on. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz )

Yachimovich to cellular CEOs: Massive layoffs after dividend frenzy are wrong

Labor Party chief Shelly Yachimovich yesterday hit out at the owners of the cellular companies for helping themselves to dividends, then starting layoffs. The mobile operators' owners have taken NIS 13 billion in dividends from their companies, she said - companies that have posted combined profits of NIS 11.9 billion. They have no right to lay off staff now, reducing thousands to penury, wrote Yachimovich in a letter to the managements of Partner Communications, Pelephone and Cellcom. "Instead of showing solidarity and humanity, which is sorely needed at this time of economic slowdown, you are showing an unwillingness to settle for the gargantuan profits you raked in so far," Yachimovich wrote. In the past month Pelephone announced 60 layoffs, and Partner and Cellcom each plan to fire 500 people. (Eran Azran )