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El Al's board of director yesterday named former Israel Air Force chief Eliezer Shkedy as the national airline's new chief executive officer.

El Al Chairman Amikam Cohen presented the board with five candidates, all from outside the company: former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Dan Halutz; Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy; former CEO of the Tnuva group, Liad Cohen; the director of Strauss's North American operations, Giora Bar Dea; and Shlomo Liran, former CEO of Yes satellite television company, who also managed the company's TV operations in Romania and is now chief executive of Ericsson Israel.

This isn't the first time the names of former IAF commanders have been publicized as possible candidates to replace El Al's chief executives: their names come up every time there's a change of guard in El Al's chief executive office. It happened with El Al's former chiefs - Rafi Harlev, David Hermesh, Amos Shapira and others; as they prepared to step down, such names as Eitan Ben Eliyahu, Herzl Bodinger and Avihu Ben-Nun (all former IAF commanders) surfaced.

Aside from external candidates, three of the airline's vice presidents presented themselves as candidates for the job: El Al's vice president of service David Maimon; vice president of operations Lior Yavor; and vice president of finance Nissim Malchi. El Al's VP of commerce, Eli Cohen, was also mentioned though he denied he was a candidate in a recent interview.

Tami Mozes-Borovich, deputy chairman of the board and the controlling shareholder of El Al, revealed in an internal discussion that the new CEO would come from outside of the company.

The new CEO replaces Haim Romano, who stepped down about six weeks ago.