High Court rejects El Al New York route petition

The High Court of Justice has cleared the way for Israir Israel Airlines to fly its scheduled flights to New York, after it rejected on Thursday the three petitions against the Tourism Ministry, protesting the government decision to grant the airline designated carrier status on the route. El Al Israel Airlines, holding company Knafaim and the El Al workers union had all petitioned the court to reverse the decision made in - to allow a second scheduled carrier on the popular route. They claimed the decision was a violation of a commitment made by the government, on the eve of the El Al privatization in 2003, to hold off on introducing local competition on any particular route until certain conditions in the aviation market been met. El Al can appeal the court ruling within 14 days. Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson welcomed the court ruling saying it will contribute to opening the Israeli economy. Israir, which over the last year has operated three to four weekly flights to New York as a charter carrier, will now fly daily. Amongst the advantages of operating as a scheduled carrier include automatic entry to travel agent's distribution systems.