El Al ranked as world’s least on-time airline, pilots blamed

Just under 36% of El Al’s flights arrived on time last month. Roughly 64% of the month’s flights experienced delays of at least 15 minutes and the average delay was 48 minutes long.

July 14, 2016 23:27
2 minute read.
El Al plane

El Al plane. (photo credit: PR)


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Israel’s flagship airline seems to also be one of the world’s tardiest. At least, those were the findings according to flight data collected by FlightStats. In its June 2016 ranking of the world’s most punctual airlines, El Al came in last, ranking in 40th place out of 40.

According to FlightStats, just under 36% of El Al’s flights arrived on time last month. Roughly 64% of the month’s flights experienced delays of at least 15 minutes and the average delay was 48 minutes long.

Similar findings were shown in FlightStats rankings from the previous year, in which El Al consistently ranked last for most months.

Indeed, even a glance at Ben-Gurion International Airport’s Thursday flight schedule throughout the day showed that almost all of El Al’s flights arrived or departed later – in some cases almost 90 minutes later – than scheduled.

Delays like this have become all too commonplace as the company’s pilots have taken to carrying out “work-to-rule strikes” to protest labor conditions, flight schedules, pay or other work issues. In March, around 20 pilots “mysteriously came down with illnesses” before their flights, causing cancellations or delays.

In a statement to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, El Al pegged the airline’s delays on disagreements between pilots and management. “Unfortunately in this recent period, El Al’s pilots have been on partial strike, which have disrupted the company’s activities and have caused flight delays.”

However, in June El Al disputed FlightStat’s methodology for defining flights that arrive 15 minutes past their scheduled time as “delayed.”

The representative also said that pilots often amend their flight path due to turbulence, which can lead to delayed arrival times.

In documents submitted to the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court last week, it was revealed that the average El Al flight captain’s monthly salary was NIS 96,756, with the average pilot’s salary being NIS 94,832. Both had seen constituted increases compared with the previous year.

The wage increases came with an increase in work hours as well, going up to an average of 81 hours a month as of June 2016, compared with 74 as of December 2016.

Yossi Shub, president of the Israel Air Line Pilots Association, of which El Al’s pilots are members, denied that any strike is going on at the moment and said he had no knowledge of delays when speaking with the Post. Shub said that the dispute between El Al’s staff and management is a “small detail.”

Though he was not asked about specific routes, he said that “all flights operated to New York from El Al will be regular. They may be delayed here and there, but not because of a strike.” According to Flightstats, two out of the three El Al flights on Thursday between New York’s JFK airport and Ben-Gurion International Airport experienced departure delays. All of them landed or were expected to land later than the scheduled time.

Of the 19 airlines on Flight- Stats “Global Airline” list with service to Israel, the top-ranking ones were Iberia Airlines (#4), Delta Airlines (#8), KLM Airlines (#12), United Airlines (#14) and Austrian Airlines (#15). Still, of the statistics available on Thursday, even Iberia managed to depart and arrive at Ben-Gurion with delays.

Niv Elis contributed to this report.

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