Airport Strike to End as Agreement Is Reached With El Al, Treasury Says

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The strike at Israel's main international airport is ending following an agreement reached between the government and El Al, the Finance Ministry announced Monday evening.

The government has agreed to cover 97.5 percent of the airline's security costs. The deal was reached after El Al employees understood that "the Open Skies policy was a fait accompli," the ministry stated.

Until now the government covered 80 percent of El Al's security costs.

It has refused to pay 100 percent of El Al's security costs to avoid probable opposition from the European Union, its partner in the Open Skies agreement, which would likely argue that a total subsidy would hurt competition by European airlines.

Some 7,227 calls were answered by the Israel Airport Authority's call centers over the course of the two-day strike by Israeli airlines at Ben Gurion International Airport, the IAA announced on Monday. Likewise, some 200 extra chairs were place at the airport for the comfort of elderly passengers stranded by the strike. Another 250 cots were also prepared for travellers stranded overnight at the airport and many ready meals and disposal diapers were purchased during the strike to be given to grounded passengers.

The cabinet approved the Open Skies arranged with the European Union on Sunday.

According to the deal, "the Open Skies agreement with the European Union aims to open up flight routes between Israel and EU members, which will lower the costs of flying from Israel to Europe, as well as opening up unlimited new destinations in these countries,."

The accord is to be implemented gradually over a period of five years so Israeli carriers would have time to adjust to the changes.

Ben-Gurion Airport. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Travelers waiting at Ben Gurion International Airport, April 22, 2013.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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