Finance Office opposes coronavirus aid package to hard-hit El Al

El Al chairman Eli Defes warned earlier on Monday that El Al is "likely to close" if the government does not provide financial assistance within the coming days.

The first of Israel's El Al Airlines order of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets lands at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv (photo credit: REUTERS)
The first of Israel's El Al Airlines order of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets lands at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel's largest Airline, El Al, is facing a possible shutdown after the professional sector of the Finance Ministry announced on Monday night that it opposes approving an economic aid package that they have been negotiating with El Al for approximately two months.
Office representatives told the struggling airline that the professional staff's current position is not to approve the requested aid package.
However, the Finance Office's professional team said that it is under the authority of the political echelon to reverse or change the decision, and the company subsequently applied for assistance from the Israeli government.
El Al chairman Eli Defes warned earlier on Monday that El Al is "likely to close" if the government does not provide financial assistance within the coming days.
Addressing the Knesset's special committee on dealing with the coronavirus, Defes said the company had presented requests to the Finance Ministry worth a total of $350 million, in addition to an organizational efficiency plan.
While airlines Israir and Arkia meet the criteria to receive assistance from the government's loan fund for large companies, the scope of El Al's operations requires separate negotiations to receive aid.
"El Al entered the crisis before all the other companies, and its $200m. revenue cycle stopped entirely," said Defes. "El Al is spread out over 30 locations worldwide. If we do not receive immediate help, within the next few days, El Al is likely to close."
On Thursday, El Al said that it would continue to ground all scheduled flights to and from Israel until May 2, with the exception of "rescue flights" to repatriate Israeli nationals abroad and some cargo flights.
The across-the-board cancellations, originally announced until April 4, followed a sharp decline in demand, concern for passenger and staff health, and the need to reduce expenditures until the outbreak subsides. The vast majority of workers have been placed on unpaid leave.

Eytan Halon contributed to this article.