israir 298.88 courtesy.
(photo credit: Courtesy photo)
Passengers can expect air ticket prices to New York to drop by 10 percent when Israir Israel Airlines starts operating schedules daily flights from Tel Aviv, Israir CEO Sabina Biran said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
"Basic rules of competition show that if Israir would not have flown [charter flights] to New York last year, prices on the route would have been 20% higher across the board," she said. "The fact that Israir flies forces El Al to reduce prices. The moment we increase our capacity to daily flights we believe prices will go down by 10%."
Biran added that the airline will start operating the daily schedule by "latest June" and that it continues to prepare for the launch despite El Al's petition to the High Court to overturn Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson's decision granting Israir designated carrier status on the popular route.
Her comments came one day after the court granted El Al a hearing to present their argument, which the court said "would not take place later than February 16." High Court Justice Salim Jubran did not however, grant El Al's request for a temporary suspension on the upgrade of Israir's status until a ruling was made on the matter.
El Al claims the decision was a violation of a commitment made to it by the government in May 2003, on the eve of its privatization, to delay adding an extra carrier to scheduled routes until total air passenger traffic to Israel rises to 10.7 million annually. Last year saw 8.5 million passengers pass through Ben-Gurion Airport.
Biran said that although she is confident the court will rule in favor of the government and Israir, the case is having a slight impact on its operations.
"We haven't stopped any of our preparations,"she said. "However their is maybe a 10% chance we will lose, and that makes me consider my expenses."
Biran would not divulge the company's total investment for the launch, saying only that it is planning to spend millions of dollars on new aircraft, new technologies required for the upgrade, and the hiring and training of 200 new staff members - mainly pilots and cabin crew.
She added that management would be presenting its strategic plan for the next two years to its board of directors in the next month, which will give it the budgetary clearance it needs for the preparations.
Meanwhile, the company is working on its corporate identity and plans to reveal its new uniforms and cabin design and marketing campaign in time for the summer.
Israir currently flies three to four flights per week to New York on a charter basis. Biran said it is planning to operate five weekly flights to Paris, four to London and four to Germany through the summer.