Europe nixes landing rights for El Al planes with IDF cargo
Italy, Germany, U.K. among countries refusing El Al landings; El Al pilots' union calls move 'blow to state defense.'
A number of European states are refusing to allow El Al cargo planes carrying Israel Defense Forces equipment from stopover landings in their airports.
The refusal came from states considered friendly with Israel, including Britain, Germany and Italy, according to Captain Etai Regev, the chairman of El Al's pilots' union.
Regev sent a letter of complaint on the matter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and to the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Tourism Ministry.
According to Regev, El Al flights bearing heavy loads that arrive from U.S. bases "are not given approval by European states to make stopover landings for refueling, for political reasons.
"As a result, cargo planes are taking off from the U.S. with much lighter weight, and are reaching Israel with significantly fewer munitions than needed."
Regev called this "a substantial blow to state defense."
In his letter, Regev complained about the government's decision last month to allow Italy's flag carrier, Alitalia, to fly Israeli state employees abroad for the first time.
"Israel's response to this is the transfer of labor to Italian pilots at the cost of Israeli pilots," he wrote.
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