Airlines Pull International Flights From Israel for Lack of Security Personnel

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el al
Despite management's denials, El Al's financial standing has been harmed by the pilots' work-to-rule.Credit: Archive

Israeli airlines are being forced to cancel planned international flights because of a severe shortage of security personnel.

Sun d’Or, the charter subsidiary of El Al Airlines, announced at the end of last week it was pulling flights to the Spanish island of Ibiza and the French island of Corsica slated for this summer after failing to get security approval. TheMarker has learned that a third route is also being cut, although not its destination.

“We have been waiting months for approval to go ahead with flights to destinations planned by us for the summer of 2018,” CEO Michael Strassburger said in a letter to Moti Ilani, head of security for El Al, which is responsible for security at all Israeli airlines.

“Unfortunately for a variety of reasons we haven’t received til today the approvals we asked for, which has created a problematic situation: At this late stage we can’t sell the seats we have to travel agents and fliers. Under the circumstances we are being forced at this stage to pull back from our plan to operate flights to Ibiza and Corsica.”

Sun d’Or has been flying to Ibiza for the past three summers and announced the route to Corsica three months ago.

Air travel in and out of Israel has surged since the 2013 Open Skies agreement with the European Union. But an agreement between the government and the Histadrut labor federation to improve pay terms for Israelis working overseas collapsed after the Foreign Ministry said it didn’t have the money to pay for it.

As a result, Ilani informed Israeli airlines they would likely have to cancel flights for lack of security personnel.

Israir also announced last week it was cutting a twice-weekly flight planned between Haifa Airport and Paphos, Cyprus after failing to get security personnel. The route hasn’t yet been advertised to the public.

“The situation in which Israeli airlines are finding themselves is simply crazy,” said Israir CEO Uri Sirkis. “The Transportation Ministry opens the skies to foreign carriers, the Tourism Ministry and the Israel Hotels Association give incentives to foreign airlines to fly to Israel, but the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry close off Israeli airlines because of disagreements between them. If someone does not do something quickly, the damage will be devastating.”