Israeli Airlines Ask for Help Too

The volcanic ash that paralyzed European aviation is also choking Israel's airlines. The global aviation industry is losing revenue at a pace of $200 million to $250 million a day, says Kobi Zussman, chairman of the local branch of the International Air Transport Association. He calls on Jerusalem to do its part to keep the local aviation industry afloat.

The ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland that began erupting on March 20 has so far spared Israel's skies. But all the airlines - El Al, Arkia, Sun D'or and IsrAir - have been hit in the pocket as the plume spread from Iceland to Scandinavia and onward to most of continental Europe, says Zussman.

The eruption had begun weeks earlier. But it was only last Thursday that it took a violent turn and country after country began closing air traffic for fear that the abrasive ash - which contains fine rock and glass particles - would choke engines and cause fatal crashes.

Yesterday three European aviation associations called on the European Commission and European Union member governments for aid. EU sources did not rule out assistance, even as airports gradually reopen - some only partially - for business. However, it remains unclear when business will be fully back to normal.

Meanwhile, flights from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Paris, Vienna, Zurich and Budapest have resumed, and the routes to Moscow, Kiev and Madrid have been back on track since Monday.

But three El Al flights to London scheduled for yesterday were canceled. Milan's airport was closed as a second wave of Icelandic ash hit the continent.

Arkia yesterday resumed flights to Paris, Bordeaux and Munich, and Austrian Airlines is flying the Vienna-Tel Aviv route again.