Despite the Price, FM Flew Sun d'Or to Africa

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chose to fly on El Al Airline's subsidiary Sun d'Or during his September trip to five African nations - even though the airline's bid was the highest by far.

The cost of the flight for Lieberman and his entourage amounted to about $1 million, three times one of the other bids from a company specializing in private flights using a leased plane from overseas.

The aircraft was required to remain with Lieberman and his entourage throughout the entire trip. Israir and Arkia did not participate in the tender as they did not have any appropriate sized planes available for the trip.

Last week TheMarker revealed a similar case in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent $1.3 million on his El Al flight to the UN General Assembly in New York last month, twice the cost offered by other airlines.

Industry sources said El Al had nearly a monopoly on such flights, as it was the only Israeli airline with a large enough fleet of planes to meet such scheduling demands.

El Al released the following statement: "Sun d'Or won the tender and operated the flight. The company is not in the habit of providing details of its business dealings to the media."

The Foreign Ministry responded, saying: "The Shin Bet security service officially and specifically ordered that the foreign minister's flight to Africa be on an Israeli airline and with an Israeli crew." The ministry said there had not been the possibility of using a different Israeli airline.

The Shin Bet added that such trips must meet the security guidelines they dictate, and "These instructions change from time to time based on assessments of the situation."