Barring an unexpected last-minute decision by the government to table approval of an Open Skies Agreement with the European Union, Israeli carriers El Al, Arkia and Israir were set to begin a strike early Sunday morning.
If passed, the agreement would introduce greater competition, which would theoretically bring down prices and force airlines to make difficult business decisions.El Al announced Saturday evening that cancellations and changes would apply to flights departing from 5 a.m. and on Sunday. The airline advised passengers to turn to the El Al website for updated information about their individual flights. For many of the flights, including one taking off to New York as late as 10:40 a.m., the airline pushed ahead the departures to significantly earlier than the strike onset, in order to allow as many flights to leave as possible. For example, the 10:40 a.m. flight now takes off at 1:10 a.m., while all others scheduled for between 6 and 9 a.m. were changed to between 4:10 and 4:40 a.m., according to the El Al website.
Israir also warned customers that due to the strike, most flights after 5 a.m. on Sunday will also be canceled or changed. Two Israir flights to Europe were moved to earlier times, while two Israir charter flights were still scheduled to take off as planned. As far as flights to and from Eilat were concerned, Israir said that customers would be able to receive refunds for their purchases, and instead will be able to buy tickets for buses departing from Sde Dov, Ben Gurion, Haifa and Eilat airports.