Fly Us Only, El Al Tells State

El Al heads met with Transportation Ministry officials Sunday night to discuss a knotty issue: The carrier wants to ground its fleet of old cargo planes, but even though it's been privatized, it has to keep at least three of the jets in flying condition. The jets are for state use during emergencies such as war, because the state kept its "golden share."

The El Al team had a list of ideas as to how the state could help the carrier contend with the horrible state of the aviation sector in general these days, in exchange for keeping the cargo planes flying.

In exchange for buying or leasing new cargo jets, they suggested, the state should commit to exporting all defense equipment through its planes, and eschew use of foreign airlines.

Another idea involves a Finance Ministry drive to issue tenders for aviation services to state officials. El Al wants the tenders to be confined to Israeli airlines.

Under the terms of the golden share, El Al has to maintain three cargo planes for the state's emergency use. The Transportation Ministry recently agreed to lower the minimum to two jets.