Israel's Flag Carrier El Al Revises Revenue Losses Higher Due to Virus

New estimate doesn’t count latest government steps to deter air travel

Yoram Gabison
Hadar Kane
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El Al Israel Airlines counters are seen at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel February 27, 2020.
El Al Israel Airlines counters are seen at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel February 27, 2020. Credit: Amir Cohen/REUTERS
Yoram Gabison
Hadar Kane

El Al Airlines’ woes are growing from bad to worse – and the worst is yet to come.

On Sunday, Israel’s flag carrier more than doubled its estimates for revenue losses due to the new coronavirus. It now estimated that the decline in revenue it expects for the January-April period to reach $140 million-$160 million, up from a previous estimate of $50 million-$70 million. The revenue decline for the first quarter will be $80 million-$90 million.

A decline in costs will partially offset the drop in revenue, so the company expects the net impact for the first four months on revenues to be $70 million to $90 million.

El Al warned that the hit would be even bigger because its latest estimates didn’t include the effect of a Health Ministry order, imposing a 14-day quarantine on foreigners visiting from France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel may expand the quarantine rule this week to visitors from all countries.

El Al, which has announced plans to lay off 15% of its staff, is in talks with the treaury about aid. El Al traffic at Ben-Gurion, Israel’s main international airport, fell 7% in February after it suspended service to China and Hong Kong and reduced service to Thailand on February 17.

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