Israir hit back at a letter sent by El Al to Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson Monday, saying the larger airline was attempting pressure the government to prevent a decision that would give Israir scheduled flights on the lucrative New York route. El Al said a recent recommendation from the Transportation Ministry on the issue was false and biased against El Al. In its comments, the Transportation Ministry had said it believed the conditions that would prevent a second local carrier from operating the route no longer existed. In May 2003, as a pre-condition to El Al's privatization, the government restricted other Israeli airlines from operating a route until El Al's share of the seat occupancy on that route falls below 30 percent or when the total annual passenger count to Israel exceeds 10.7 million. "The different government offices agree that these conditions have not yet been met," El Al claimed. In response, Israir said El Al's baseless accusations aimed at protecting its monopoly had crossed the line of legitimacy. Both Israeli charter airlines Israir and Arkia Airlines are seeking to start scheduled flights on the profitable New York line. The Tourism Ministry is due to make a decision shortly.