Lapid: We will not abandon aviation workers

FinMin vows to listen to industry requests on "Open Skies"; with strike looming, no results after meeting with El Al c'tee.

Yair Lapid 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Yair Lapid 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid met with the El Al workers' committee Friday morning to hear their objections to the "Open Skies Agreement" due to be approved at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The meeting did not yield any concrete results.
The workers' committees at Israel's three air carriers El Al, Arkia, and Israir decided Sunday at a crisis meeting to declare a strike beginning Sunday, unless the government freezes its intention to approve the "Open Skies Agreement" at Sunday's cabinet meeting, and open talks with the carriers' representatives on the matter.
Earlier Friday, Lapid addressed aviation industry employees who protested outside of his house, Israel Radio reported.
"I am not negotiating. The workplace, the people and their livelihood are the most important things to me, these are the most important things to the government," Lapid said.
"We will not abandon anyone," he added, explaining that although it was likely that not all demands would be met, "we will sit, and we will listen."
Lapid was set to meet with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz later in the day, to discuss expected transportation budget cuts in the coming year, which would likely put a freeze on large infrastructure projects.
The "Open Skies Agreement" - formulated after many rounds of negotiations since December 2008 - aims to increase the number of flights that European airlines operate to and from Israel gradually over a five-year period beginning from 2013, as well as lower ticket prices to Europe for Israelis.
Terms of the agreement would allow all EU airlines to be able to operate direct flights to Israel from any location in the EU, and Israeli airlines in turn will be able to fly to any EU airport.Forbes Israel and Globes contributed to this report.