Foreign Charter Airlines Cry Foul Over Airport Agency Policies

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An association of foreign charter airlines operating out of Israel claims its members are discriminated against by the Israel Airports Authority in favor of scheduled discount airlines, in measures that it says curtail competition.

Leaders from the group, representing carriers from Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland, are meeting Thursday with representatives from the agency, including the director of Ben-Gurion International Airport, Shmuel Zakai, to discuss the issue.

No access to cheaper terminal

Among the complaints of the charter airlines is that unlike the low-cost carriers they are not allowed to operate out of the old passenger terminal at Ben-Gurion, Terminal 1, where the airlines’ costs are lower.

Unlike scheduled airlines, which fly on a set schedule and generally sell seats individual, charter carriers tend to fly a more variable schedule and to sell seats in bulk. 

Alex Greenwald, who chairs the foreign charter organization here, said discount scheduled airlines raise their prices when demand is high and charge for additional services, while charter airlines sometimes offer cheaper fares.

The charter carriers, he said, are not sufficiently consulted by Israeli aviation officials.

In addition, they are being deprived of early-morning takeoff slots, instead being relegated to later in the morning.

The Israel Airports Authority said in response that time slots are allocated on an equal footing based on accepted criteria, adding that the charter carriers are invited to a conference Thursday at which airport policies including the use of Terminal 1 are to be presented.

Scheduled carriers, however, do have reserved time slots, as is the practice around the world, the authority said.

El Al planes parked at Ben-Gurion airport. Sunday, April 21, 2013.Credit: AP
An El Al plane on the runway at Ben Gurion Airport.Credit: Moti Milrod

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