El Al Reaches Agreement With Pilots, Flights Likely to Get Shorter

During the weeks-long labor dispute, pilots imposed a slowdown, forcing El Al to cancel flights and lease aircraft and crews from other airlines.

Gili Melnitcki
Gili Melnitcki
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An El Al Boeing flies over the clouds.
An El Al Boeing flies over the clouds.Credit: Boeing
Gili Melnitcki
Gili Melnitcki

After more than 12 hours of negotiations, El Al reached an agreement with its employees Sunday, ending a weeks-long labor dispute.

Over two weeks ago, the Israeli airline decided to crack down on so-called split flights, in which pilots fly only one way on a roundtrip flight and get paid to fly as passengers in business class on the return. Responding to the move, pilots instigated a labor slowdown, forcing El Al to cancel flights and lease aircraft and crews from abroad to fill the holes in its schedule.

An agreement has yet to be signed, but both sides have agreed to the deal.

According to the agreement reached between the company's management and its employees, the company's pilots will receive a 7.35% pay raise, and the company will cease chartering planes except in emergencies.

For their part, the pilots agreed to shorter stays abroad between flights, saving the company the expenses of housing. The pilots will receive financial compensation for this.

Shorter flights expected

According to the agreement, the pilots agreed to predetermined flight durations, after last year flight duration on El Al's flights from Tel Aviv to New York and back surprisingly increased. This was caused by manipulation on the part of the pilots that increased the flight time in order to increase their salary.

The flight time increased from an average of 11 hours and 30 minutes in 2006 to 12 hours and 20 minutes in 2016. The reason being that pilots flying more than 12 hours received extra pay as well as two seats in business class despite the fact that El Al planes used for long distance flights usually have a staff resting booth.

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