Miscues by Israeli airline companies are liable to cause severe economic damage, according to managers from El Al, Arkia and Israir.
The companies sold airline tickets to new destinations that have yet to receive security clearance because of a $25 million gap between the approved budget and the required expenses to finance their security costs in the spring-summer schedule that goes into effect in March.
The executives separately warned the director generals of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Transportation Ministry on Tuesday that a delay in approving the security budget could lead to the cancellation of flights that have already been sold, wreaking widespread financial damage.
The director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Giora Rom, was to hold a special meeting on the matter on Wednesday.
The airline executives assert that the government committed itself that once the Open Skies agreement with the European Union came into effect opening competition, no situation would be created in which Israeli airlines would not be able to add destinations or flights on financial grounds. Likewise, the state promised to increase its share in funding security costs to 97.5% to level the playing field between local and foreign airlines, European ones in particular. The latest approved flight security budget does not allow providing full security services to Israeli airlines during the peak spring and summer months.
The upshot is that the Transportation Ministry’s security branch, which provides security services for Israeli airlines abroad, can’t cover all the new destinations or expanded services in existing ones. The absence of security coverage could disrupt the spring-summer schedule and prevent or cause delays in opening new destinations, particularly to Europe.
Negotiations have commenced at the Finance Ministry to address the shortfall; the total estimated cost of security for Israeli airlines is over $120 million annually.
The Transportation Ministry commented, “We are aware of the need to enlarge the aviation security budget, which stems from a rise in aviation operations, and are working with the relevant bodies to advance the matter.”