El Al cancels flights as pilots fail to show up

Flights to and from St. Petersburg were cancelled last night. The airline is in dispute with its pilots on working conditions.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) last night cancelled two flights, after action by the pilots' representative on the El Al workers committee, Captain Nir Tzuk, resulted in pilots not turning up for duty. "Regrettably, Captain Nir Tzuk, decided at his own initiative to initiate actions that are tantamount to labor sanctions, which resulted in several pilots not turning up for duty." said El Al in a statement.

El Al cancelled flight LY623 from Tel Aviv to St. Petersburg, and the return flight, LY 624. The Boeing 737 was scheduled to depart at 6:15 pm yesterday with 140 passengers to St. Petersburg. The return flight to Tel Aviv was scheduled to depart at 23:05 pm yesterday with 132 passengers.

"We wish to emphasize that to the best of our knowledge, the actions by Captain Nir Tzuk were not coordinated with, or authorized by, or with the consent of, El Al's workers representatives, Histadrut Transport Union chairman Asher Edri, or Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini," added El Al.

El Al said that it would seek appropriate alternative arrangements for the stranded passengers.

The chairman of El Al's workers committee said in response, "The committee has not decided on any labor sanctions. This response confirms that Nir Tzuk acted without the approval of the committee."

The flights were cancelled after El Al's pilots union notified its members of the failure of negotiations with management, after a month of talks. The talks, sponsored by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel), discussed amending the collective agreement before El Al implements its streamlining plan. The pilots are demanding that management should not intervene in pilots' exclusive decisions on planes, and should jointly schedule the excess workload during the summer months. They also want sharp pay cuts for airline executives and not just for staff, joint work on the airline's strategy, and a capital injection from the airline's shareholders.

El Al's share price fell 0.8% in morning trading to NIS 0.376, giving a market cap of NIS 187 million.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 10, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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