El Al CEO: We respect gov't decision

Elyezer Shkedy was more conciliatory today, after yesterday's criticism of the Open Skies agreement.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) CEO Elyezer Shkedy is more conciliatory today than yesterday about the cabinet approval of the Open Skies agreement with the EU. "El Al respects the Israeli government and its decision about Open Skies," he said, in contrast to yesterday's remarks, "The Israeli government today made a tough decision, which prevents Israeli aviation from fair and equitable competition," and, "The government did not recognize the need for sound Israeli aviation."

Shkedy added that El Al today asked the government to immediately arrange various issues to enable fair and equitable competition, beginning with the government's full participation in Israeli airlines' security costs.

Arkia Airlines Ltd., which has realized that there is no chance that the Open Skies agreement will be cancelled, today asked the National Labor Court to join as a party (as a respondent) in the petition filed by the Manufacturers Association of Israel against the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel).

In its motion, Arkia said that it was the employer of the striking employees, and a proper and necessary party to the dispute in question. It added that a decision in the dispute could have a direct impact on the airline.

At the same time, Arkia CEO Gad Tepper has called for the parties to hold an urgent meeting today by a government appointed team to build mutual confidence and end the strike quickly. The letter was sent to Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz, Prime Minister's Office director general Harel Locker, Israel Civil Aviation Authority director general Giora Rom, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. CEO Uri Sirkis, and Shkedy.

"The ongoing strike is harming the Israeli economy in general, and passengers and the airlines in particular. I ask you to convene the team today for its first meeting to build mutual confidence by the parties, learn the intentions of the designated team, and to try and bring a rapid end to the strike, while ensuring the soundness of Israeli aviation with its thousands of employees," he wrote.

A short while ago, the Histradrut's exemptions committee approved an Arkia flight from Eilat to Tel Aviv's Sde Dov Airport. The plane will carry a group of patients from Eilat's Yoseftal Hospital for live-saving treatments at hospitals in central Israel.

Lapid said today that the government would not retreat from the Open Skies agreement. "Open Skies is a done deal. This is a good and agreement that is right for Israel's people, the Israeli economy, and Israeli tourism. That said, the special problems of Israeli airlines, due to their unique security needs, should be considered. The problems can be solved. I have instructed Finance Ministry teams to submit solutions to help Israeli airlines in the new reality of Open Skies. This strike was unnecessary from the start, and it is unnecessary now."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 22, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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