Lapid: Despite airlines' strike, Open Skies intact

Finance Minister: Open Skies deal beneficial to country, will not be revoked; vows to face integral security needs of airlines.

yair lapid 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yair lapid 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid insisted Monday that approval of the Open Skies Agreement was beneficial and appropriate for Israeli citizens and the economy, and that it would not be rescinded as advocated by protesting Israeli airline companies.
Lapid said that although the agreement was final and "the airlines' strike is unnecessary,"  he vowed to resolve the particular problems faced by Israel airline companies due to their unique security needs. He had instructed field professionals from his office to formulate a solution that would help the airlines operate in light of the agreement.
Israeli airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir and the Histadrut embarked on a strike Sunday morning in an attempt to head off the proposal – which promised to lower prices, broaden the base of flight destinations and boost tourism by liberalizing routes between Israel and the European Union over five years – charging it would result in layoffs.
The Histadrut labor federation announce that the strike would continue - threatening to ground all flights in and out of Israel starting on Tuesday at 6 a.m. - and that the Israel Airports Authority would join the strike in solidarity on Tuesday, unless the Treasury and the Finance Ministry agreed to alter the agreement in negotiations.
The Manufacturer's Association was set to present their petition to the National Labor Court in Jerusalem Monday evening to order an injunction preventing the Israeli airline workers from continuing their strike against the reform, Israel Radio reported.
Amid the ongoing strikes, the Histadrut exemptions committee approved departure of a few critical flights, including a flight to Romania Sunday for 40 parents of children with cancer scheduled to take a vacation, Army Radio reported.
A delegation of Israel high school students slated to participate in an international robotics competition was also permitted to travel.
Globes contributed to this report.