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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good luck if you're traveling on Sunday

Good luck if you're traveling into or out of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday. The three local airlines are going on strike on Sunday to protest the open skies agreement with the European Union (which might cut our airfares to a level that's comparable with the rest of the world), and the rest of the airport is likely to be shut down in sympathy.
El Al workers' committee chairman Asher Edry told Globes that the committees had taken the joint decision to ground all flights beginning Sunday, unless the government opens negotiations with them. "We demand that all the promises made to us before the agreement was signed, i.e. the issuing of slots at key European airports, code-sharing with foreign airlines, which have been blocked, and so forth, be implemented in full. Otherwise, we will shut down aviation."
The cabinet is set to approve the Open Skies Agreement with the EU at Sunday's meeting. Upon learning of the government's intention, the workers' committees of El Al, Arkia, and Israir met under the aegis of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) to draw up plans for preventative action and protests.
Histadrut Transport Workers Union chairman Avi Edry, who convened the airlines' workers committees, said, "The meeting was called to draw up actions against the unilateral decisions by the government to implement the Open Skies Agreement in its present format." He reiterated that the airlines' unions and managements have opposed the Open Skies Agreement, saying, "The agreement in its present form will destroy Israeli aviation and cost tens of thousands of jobs in the industry without protecting Israeli aviation and will make Israeli airlines hostages paying for passenger security, landing rights at key airports, and so on."
El Al CEO Elyezer Shkedy has been leading the fight against the agreement. In a recent notice to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), El Al said that the agreement would result in greater competition in the aviation industry and harm the company's business.
 Hell hath no fury like a monopolist facing competition.

As to the code sharing for El Al, there are at least two reasons that's not happening. One is anti-Semitism. The second is that the FAA and the IATA consider the airport unsafe.

My father HK"M (may I atone for his death) was once here during a ground crew strike back in the late '70's. He told me at the time that El Al had more ground workers at Ben Gurion than United (than the largest airline in the US) had in all of the United States. Keep that in mind when you hear them complaining.

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