The Jerusalem Post

Airlines: Industry in danger of collapse, solution must be found quickly

- • By ZEV STUB

Israel’s aviation industry is in danger of collapse, airline company heads told the country’s coronaviru­s airport commission­er Wednesday.

A solution to allow air travel, despite fears of new coronaviru­s variants and rising case numbers, must be found quickly, the airline heads told Maj.-Gen. (res.) Roni Numa ahead of the coronaviru­s cabinet’s meeting scheduled for Thursday.

Numa met with the heads of El Al, Israir, and Arkia and internatio­nal carriers in order to hear their feedback and ask for solutions ahead of Thursday’s meeting, his spokesman said.

In addition, the CEOs sent

letter to Prime Minister

Naftali Bennett calling on him to recognize the seriousnes­s of the situation for the industry and its workers.

Israel’s travel industry is in a state of disarray as the government waffles on offering any clear guidance about travel restrictio­ns ahead of what is hoped to be a busy August. Among the ideas that have been floated in past days include the prospect of requiring all incoming travelers to quarantine for seven days, and closing the airport completely. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and coronaviru­s commission­er Prof. Nachman Ash have repeatedly asked Israelis to avoid any non-essential travel plans.

Such talk is causing a lot of anxiety for the tens of thousands of Israelis with travel plans for August, as well as for the airlines expecting to carry them. Many have already canceled vacations in Europe, where countries have begun reinstitut­ing their own travel restrictio­ns. Meanwhile, there has been a recent surge in travelers heading to the US, as other options seem closed off.

Israel’s airlines have suffered tremendous­ly during the pandemic. El Al lost $531 million in 2020 and saw revenues drop more than 70% due to canceled flights last year. Customers were forced to wait months until their flight tickets were refunded. In recent months, The government spent nearly NIS 750m. bailing out El Al and Israir. The prospect of further closures or cancellati­ons would dig those holes even deeper.

 ?? (Yossi Aloni/Flash90) ?? ISRAEL’S TRAVEL industry is in a state of disarray as the government waffles on offering any clear guidance about travel restrictio­ns ahead of what is hoped to be a busy August.
(Yossi Aloni/Flash90) ISRAEL’S TRAVEL industry is in a state of disarray as the government waffles on offering any clear guidance about travel restrictio­ns ahead of what is hoped to be a busy August.

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