El Al subsidiary Sun D'or will be losing its operation license on April 1 - just in time for the Passover holiday.
The Civil Aviation Authority decided yesterday that Sun D'or would lose its license because it doesn't meet the necessary criteria, and because it doesn't have its own planes, pilots or air staff.
It has until the end of the month to fix the problem. If it doesn't, people with tickets on Sun D'or flights will not be able to use them.
The financial damage to Sun D'or and the impact on the public are expected to be substantial because of the rush during the upcoming Passover holiday, when many people take advantage of the extended vacation to fly abroad.
CAA head Giora Rom said Sun D'or did not meet the Israeli or international standards demanded of local companies. Sun D'or is not managed independently, and relies on El Al's infrastructure, he noted.
The company was informed more than a year ago that it was not meeting its licensing terms, and it tried to address the problem, but didn't do so to the CAA's satisfaction, Rom said.
Transportation Ministry official Avner Ovadia said the CAA had been discussing Sun D'or with the European Union for the past six months, because the latter also had criticism about how the company was operated. This culminated with a meeting in Brussels last week between a CAA delegation, Sun D'or representatives and EU officials.
A Sun D'or employee said Rom had also met with El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy to discuss how to limit the damage to the public.
El Al had informed the stock exchange earlier yesterday that Sun D'or was expected to lose its license. In the announcement, it said it did not know what the financial impact would be.
Sun D'or was launched as a means for letting let El Al operate flights on Saturdays and Jewish holidays, and the arrangement had been accepted by the religious public - who didn't boycott the national carrier - and Israel's aviation authorities for years.
The company expanded greatly in 2010, and was Ben-Gurion International Airport's fourth-largest carrier that year.
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