Shares in El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) and European airlines are falling as the ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to rise and spread over the continent. El Al's share price fell 5.5% in morning trading today to NIS 1.05, giving a market cap of NIS 540 million.
The world's airlines are losing an estimated $200 million a day as much of Europe's air space remains closed and its airports shut. The direct financial damage to El Al is hard to estimate, but will likely be heavy following the cancellation of most flights to Europe.
El Al and Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. have been conducting "rescue flights" to Athens, Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome to pick up Israelis stranded in Europe. El Al said that it will not charge extra for tickets bought by the stranded passengers who had tickets on cancelled El Al flights, but that it will charge full price to passengers who had reached Europe on other airlines.
The Israel Airports Authority said that since the ash cloud reached Europe on Thursday afternoon, through today, 150 flights to 30 European airports have been cancelled and that 40,000 passengers could not arrive at, or depart from, Ben Gurion Airport.
European authorities believe that northern and eastern European air space will remain closed for the next several days, at least.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 18, 2010
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