Sunday, April 21, 2013

Israeli Airline Employees Strike to Protest Open Skies Agreement With EU

Planning to fly to or from Israel over the next few days on an Israeli airline?  You better check your schedule carefully.  Employees of Israeli airlines, El-Al, Arkia and Israir, began an "open-ended strike" this morning at 5 a.m. to protest an "Open-Skies" agreement that the Israeli government reached recently with the EU.

Israir Airlines
The Open Skies agreement was apparently concluded in July 2012 but has not yet been passed by Israel's cabinet.  Under the agreement, all EU airlines would be able to fly to Israel and Israeli airlines would be able to fly to any destination in the EU.  It is expected that this could increase tourism to Israel and reduce air travel prices significantly for Israelis.  However, according to YNet News, Israel's online news source, Israeli TV station, Channel 10, ran a story that the Israeli Transportation Ministry had warned of the potential collapse of El Al - Israel's largest airline - in the case of an Open Skies deal.  According to Channel 10, the Ministry did not bring the report to the government's attention or to the attention of the public.  The Ministry apparently denies that it concealed the report.

El Al Airlines
Israeli airline employees are apparently worried about potential lay-offs, redundancies and the overall economic consequences that they will face if this Open Skies deal proceeds.  One of the major concerns is that the Israeli airlines have significantly higher security costs and the EU airlines will not be required to incur these same costs.  Another concern relates to whether or not the Open Skies deal actually provides for guaranteed landing spots in EU cities.  Apparently, the deal does guarantee quite a number of spots for EU airlines to land in Israel.

The Israeli cabinet is meeting to discuss the matter and various talks are being held.  It is unclear where this is all headed and whether other air travel in and out of Israel will be affected.  But for now, travelling on one of the three Israeli airlines is sure to be a challenge.

Arkia Airlines


No comments:

Post a Comment