311_el al plane.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. is finding increasingly difficult to come up with a
sustainable solution for Shabbat operations.
Arkia Airlines Ltd. on
Tuesday told Globes it has notified El Al that it would stop leasing services to
El Al beginning May 1. This means that after a month’s operations El Al will no
longer be able to operate Shabbat flights using an Arkia code.
Airlines and Tourism Ltd. is also leaning toward terminating its leasing
agreement with El Al, but it declined to make an official statement on the
matter, sources at the company told Globes.
Since El Al’s charter
subsidiary Sun D’Or International Airlines had its license revoked on April 1,
El Al operated weekday charter flights under its own code and Shabbat and Yom
Tom flights under an Arkia or Israir code. In effect, El Al planes and crews
were flying as a different Israeli airline. In this way, El Al sought to bypass
the grounding of its planes on Shabbat and Yom Tom without enraging Israel’s
religious communities or to publicly declare that the national carrier would
“We gave El Al several weeks to organize itself and fly
with our code, but we have the feeling that they’re trying to trick everybody at
the expense of the other airlines,” a senior executive at an Israeli charter
airline told Globes. “It’s unacceptable that this trick should become a
permanent solution that will hurt us. They have to decide what they want to
do. This cannot go on.”
The decision by Israel’s charter airlines
not to let El Al use their codes for Shabbat and Yom Tom flights could force El
Al to decide between grounding its fleet on Shabbat and losing substantial
revenue, or flying on Shabbat and losing haredi patronage.
loss of Sun D’Or’s license, El Al said it would continue its policy of no
Shabbat flights, partly in response to threats of haredi boycotts.
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