El Al Seeks Millions in Compensation for IDF Use of Planes During Lebanon War

Company's planes used to deliver emergency reinforcements from U.S.; also seeking compensation for loss of income.

El Al is seeking compensation for the use of its cargo planes to ferry emergency military reinforcements from the U.S. during the Lebanon war, and for economic losses suffered by the company during the conflict.

For the first time since the flag carrier's privatization, the company was called on for service by the military, as IDF supply stocks became depleted and in need of reinforcement from abroad.

"In a time of war, the company's cargo planes were recruited to help relieve the dire strain on the country's military," explained El Al executives.

"A segment of these flights will be billed to the Ministry of Defense, while a number of them will be considered 'enlisted' by the military and free of charge."

Income losses accrued by El Al as a result of this campaign represent just a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars in compensation that the company is seeking for losses sustained during the war in Lebanon.

In a letter to the ministries of finance, transportation, and tourism, the El Al CEO, Haim Romano, detailed the damage suffered by Israeli aviation during the war.

"The State of Israel is required to support and help Israeli aviation companies in their struggle to survive in these difficult conditions," stated Romano.

The initial damage, according to Romano, was caused by a cancellation of the majority of reservations made for air travel to Israel for the summer.

"The severity of this hit we suffered has deep ramifications, and we know from our experience that repairing the tourist and aviation infrastructure in Israel will be a long and complicated process," he added.

Further damage was caused by a drop in the number of Israelis traveling abroad. This came during the busiest months of July and August, which the tourist industry depends on to make it through the slower months of the year.

The final hit suffered by the industry was a steep rise in operational costs accrued by El Al as a result of the heightened security situation and the use of Ben-Gurion International Airport for Israel Air Force operations.

"In instances where the state uses El Al's cargo planes, they are required by law to pay compensation," Romano commented.