El AL boss: Our security costs 'tenfold' other airlines

Former air force commander Shkedi says he plans alliances with other airlines.

By JORDANA HORN
October 29, 2010 04:29
2 minute read.
Eliezer Shkedi

Eliezer Shkedi 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

NEW YORK – El Al’s security costs are “tenfold” those of other airlines, its CEO Eliezer Shkedi and Vice President for North and Central America Offer Gat said at a press conference on Thursday to discuss the first 10 months of Shkedi’s tenure.

“Governments around the world are taking care of whatever they take care of,” Gat said. “The government of Israel’s standards of security are totally different from the rest of the world.”

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Shkedi declined to comment on recent tensions between US, UK and European airports about security standards.

But saying he wants “each and every [passenger] who enters the airplane to feel confident,” the former IAF chief said that all security expenditures on El Al are well worth it.

“I’d like you to feel as safe as you can,” he said, speaking to the reporters as potential passengers.

He noted that this press conference, his first on US soil since he became CEO in January 2010, was taking place “here in New York, and the most horrible terrorist attack was here, and took place through airplanes.”

While Shkedi declined to compare his airline’s security with that of others, he said that El Al, with 460 weekly departures and 3.6 million passengers annually, was looking at security issues all around the world and was in constant contact with experts.

“I don’t check other airlines,” Shkedi said when asked how El Al’s security compares to that of other airlines.

“I know we invest a lot of efforts, thinking and money in order to have what we believe that we must give our passengers. It costs us a lot of money.”

Shkedi added that America and Israel were the only countries that truly realized what was at stake in the war on terror.

“There are two nations in the world that really understand – the Americans and the Israelis,” Shkedi said.

“I’m telling you loud and clear: The Americans and the Israelis.”

Beyond security, Shkedi said his plans for El Al included pursuing alliances with other airlines.

“Unfortunately, even though we tried in the past to join one of the alliances, we didn’t succeed,” he said, citing political concerns as the reason behind the lack of progress on this front. “I personally believe we have to try again and again.

“You do not know me, but I don’t give up,” Shkedi told the assembled reporters.

Shkedi has planned an alliance with US economy carrier JetBlue Airways, and is devising future arrangements for a codeshare with Air China and a potential collaboration with Russia’s S7 Airlines.

In any case, certain things will continue to hold true at El Al, Shkedi said.

“I believe and will continue to believe that we do not fly on Shabbat, that we should serve [only] kosher meals and that we continue to spend on our unique security expenses,” he said.

While each of these things entails significant expense to the airline, “this is the meaning, from my point of view, of being the civilian wings of the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.”


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