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"I hope we will not have to sell airplanes," said a senior El Al executive yesterday. "The company's situation required significant efficiency [measures], and it is important that the employees internalize what is happening," he added, relating to the crisis in labor relations at the airline in recent days.

The executive added that in light of the $44 million loss in 2006, the firm needed 170 workers to leave and had to cut the remaining employees' salaries. He explained that while employee representatives had agreed to $22 million in cuts, the union has still not signed anything that would allow management to start rehabilitating the airline.

El Al also is threatening to cancel the company's collective labor agreement if the union does not sign soon. Last Monday, El Al told the Histadrut that since there is no direct agreement between the employee representatives and El Al management, the agreement with the Histadrut would not be extended beyond 2007.

The Histadrut's response yesterday was strongly worded. "We will not negotiate with the company's management under any ultimatum. So long as El Al chooses to take unilateral action, such action will face the appropriate response from employee representatives and the Histadrut, with all that this entails."