El Al yesterday resumed the day flights to Eilat that it had suspended a week ago, after the Civil Aviation Authority allowed it to temporarily resume using its usual flight path rather than a new one the airline had deemed dangerous.
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Last week, the CAA had ordered El Al to alter its flight path to Eilat for security reasons. But the airline said its Boeing 737 jets were too large to handle the new flight path and landing procedures safely, and therefore suspended all day flights to Eilat as of last Monday. Its night flights, which use smaller planes, continued as usual.
Yesterday, however, after consulting with defense officials, the CAA agreed to let El Al continue using the old flight path for another two weeks, during which time it is supposed to make any adjustments necessary to enable it to switch to the new route.
The airline indignantly rejected claims by other sources in the aviation industry that its real reason for suspending the flights was that they were unprofitable. Among those leveling the charge was Yigal Cohen, chairman of the workers union at rival airline Arkia, in a letter to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi told Haaretz he has no problem shutting down unprofitable routes, as he recently did with El Al’s route to Sao Paulo, Brazil. But he sees Eilat as a route with growth potential, and therefore even increased the number of daily flights there from three to four – two day flights and two night flights.
The airline said passengers whose flights were canceled last week were given refunds and offered free bus service to Eilat.