Braverman wants legislation on gas exports

Knesset Economics Affairs Committee Chairman Avishay Braverman said yesterday he plans to seek legislation regulating Israel’s natural gas exports.” The natural gas export issue is too important to be determined by a simple regulation. I intend to lead the way for Knesset legislation on the exports,” he said during deliberations on the gas-export policy recommendations made by the government’s Tzemach committee. The committee concluded that Israel could export 500 billion of its 950 billion cubic meters of gas, but Braverman said lawmakers would discuss shortcomings in the Tzemach report, as well as the monopoly that Delek Group and its partner, U.S.-based Noble Energy, have in Israel’s natural gas market. ‏(Avi Bar-Eli‏)

Mortgage lending down 4% in April

Banks granted NIS 3.83 billion in mortgage loans during April, 4% less than in the previous month but a 26% jump from the year before, the Bank of Israel said yesterday. Interest rates on mortgages continued declining, reaching 2.1% for inflation-linked loans and 3.36% for unlinked loans − about 0.5 percentage point less than a year ago, mostly due to the Bank of Israel’s lowering its base lending rate in the past year. The bank again cut the base rate yesterday by 0.25 percentage point to 1.5%. Bankers say that much of the recent mortgage activity is coming from borrowers who took out home loans at higher interest rates and are now trading them for loans at the historically low rates prevailing now. ‏(Sivan Aizescu‏)

Israeli airline traffic plunged 10% in April

Israeli airlines carried 10.3% fewer passengers in April − some 360,000 − than in the same month a year ago, the Israel Airports Authority said yesterday. The number of international travelers passing through Ben-Gurion International Airport in the month was 979,000, a 4% drop from April 2012, with Israeli airlines holding a 37.5% market share. The drop in traffic is likely due to the Passover holiday falling in March this year as opposed to April last year. Turkish Airlines, Air France and Ukraine International Airlines posted the largest year-over-year gains in passenger loads in and out of Israel. Ben-Gurion also handled 64,100 passengers on domestic flights last month, compared with 60,800 in April 2012. ‏(Zohar Blumenkrantz‏)