"The coming fall and winter are expected to be difficult for the aviation industry, worse than last winter," the CEO of Brussels Airlines in Israel, Robbie Hershkowitz, said recently. The holiday vacation season is at its height, and the passenger numbers are encouraging, but Hershkowitz and his colleagues at other airlines operating in Israel are pessimistic about the "after the holidays period," which begins in mid-October.

Figures from the Israel Airports Authority show that 50,000 people passed through Ben-Gurion International Airport Thursday, just before Rosh Hashanah. Similar numbers are expected at the beginning and end of the Sukkot holiday.

All told some 820,000 passengers are expected to fly via Ben-Gurion during the almost month-long holiday period, similar to last year's figures.

The summer passenger numbers were also surprisingly good, but all that has not lessened their worries about the fall and winter. Hershkowitz says that is the big question mark in the industry. And the airlines are not just talking, they are cutting back on their schedules in anticipation of a drop in demand.