Transport Ministry Won't Compensate Airlines for Dirty-fuel Scandal

Quality of fuel and airport functioning it isn't its responsibility, says ministry legal counsel Ron Halfon.

Zohar Blumenkrantz
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Zohar Blumenkrantz

Although the State of Israel promised to compensate airlines for delays caused by contamination in the jet fuel supply two years ago, it hasn't yet, and a letter from the Transport Ministry to the International Air Transport Association this week doesn't revive hope that it will.

Aviation traffic to and from Israel all but ground to a halt in May 2011 after an unidentified contaminant was found in jet fuel. Planes that did make the trip tended to stop in Cyprus for refueling but dozens of flights simply didn't take off.

IATA's manager in Israel, Kobi Zussman, wrote to Transport Minister Yisrael Katz that because of the fuel problem, airlines – Israeli and foreign – suffered unexpected, not insignificant costs. At a special meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, which convened even before test results of the goo were in (including test results by IATA itself), various representatives of the state promised the affected carriers would be compensated, Zussman wrote, but nothing happened.

"To this day nothing has been done," Zussman wrote to the minister, urging that he take personal responsibility to advance the matter.

Zussman received a reply from the ministry legal counsel, Ron Halfon, reading, in part: "Suggestions may have been made that the aviation companies should be compensated, but beyond a general suggestion reflecting the obvious, that does not constitute a commitment by the Transport Ministry to act to compensate the airlines, and certainly not by the ministry itself."

The ministry has no authority or responsibility regarding the quality of fuel, or the functioning of the airport, or responsibility for damage suffered, Halfon wrote, and it isn't the body that should be discussing the issue.

Fewer Israelis are leaving home, according to recent stats.Credit: Bloomberg