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The Transportation Ministry is not likely to approve Arkia's request to operate regular flights to New York, TheMarker has learned. Israir has been running a regular line to New York since May 1, and the Civil Aviation Authority has been evaluating requests by Arkia to run regular services to New York and numerous other destinations.

According to a senior Transportation Ministry source, the High Court of Justice upheld former transportation minister Abraham Hirchson's decision to only approve Israir's request to run regular flights to New York for a two-year trial period.

Hirchson justified his decision to approve Israir's request, but not Arkia's, with the argument that the latter had withdrawn its request. According to the source, although Arkia, under the new management of the Nakash brothers, has renewed the request, this is not sufficient reason to change the original decision.

The source also expressed his displeasure regarding Arkia's request to run regular flights not only to New York, but also to a large number of destinations in Europe and South America.

The source said he had no problem with the actual request, but had serious doubts as to whether Arkia was able to run flights to so many destinations, even if it were given the approval to do so.

Arkia said in response that it would equip itself in keeping with the rights and permits it receives.

Airport strike grounded for now

Meanwhile, the head of the Israel Airports Authority workers union, Pinhas Idan, told TheMarker yesterday that he had decided to agree to a request from IAA chief Gaby Ofir not to take industrial action at Ben-Gurion International Airport. This follows a promise by IAA management to safeguard the rights of contract workers at IAA facilities.

However, security and sanitation workers at the airport told TheMarker of serious violations of their rights by IAA subcontractors. In one case, a worker who took a five-minute smoking break lost four hours' pay.

Arkia eyeing new planes

Arkia is in advanced talks with Boeing over the purchase of four new-generation 787 airliners.

Under the agreement, Arkia will first buy two planes for $280 million, with an option to purchase an additional two.

The agreement is due to be signed at the end of month, when senior Arkia executives visit Boeing headquarters.

Some 300 orders for the new plane have come in from airlines around the world so far.

Sky TV

Lufthansa has launched a service to allow passengers on its flights to and from Israel to watch TV on their laptop computers.

The service is now available following the completion of the installation of the company's Flynet network on all of its 61 widebodied airliners. For a fee, passengers can watch Euronews, CNBC, BBC World and MSNBC.

A year ago, Lufthansa enabled its passengers to connect to the Internet.

Boeing lobbies El Al

Boeing is heightening its marketing efforts with El Al in light of the national carrier's plans to purchase competitor Airbus' planes for the first time, TheMarker has learned.

A high-ranking Boeing delegation visited El Al last week and met with top El Al executives.

For two entire days, the two sides discussed the possibility of El Al buying Boeing 787s rather than the European Airbus A330.

Fares from France take off

Tel Aviv hoteliers have voiced concerns over the price of flights from France this summer. According to Eli Ziv, the director-general of the Tel Aviv Hotel Association, private travelers are being asked to pay 900 euros for an El Al flight to Israel.

Last August, the same flight was selling for 780 euros - a price that also prompted complaints from members of the French Jewish community.