With talks being held between the management of Arkia Airlines Ltd. and its pilots' committee, Arkia today announced that it was cooperating on flights to Vietnam. Six months after launching direct flights to Bangkok in direct competition against El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL), Arkia announced an interline agreement with Vietnam Airlines in which it will offer tickets from Tel Aviv to Hanoi/Saigon. The flight route will include an intermediate stop in Bangkok, from where the flight to Vietnam takes two hours.
Arkia inaugurated a direct route to Bangkok last July, for which it uses a leased plane. Two or three weekly flights are operated on the route, depending on the season. As displayed on the Arkia website, ticket prices for the flights vary from $600 to $880 for a roundtrip flight in November.
Arkia reported that a roundtrip flight to Hanoi in the framework of the Arkia-Vietnam Airlines cooperation would cost $1,000. At this stage, the flights to Vietnam do not appear on the Arkia website.
Arkia International EVP Oz Berlowitz predicted that Arkia would sign additional interline agreements in the Far East in the coming months, saying, "After seeing strong demand for Arkia's flights to Bangkok, it is only natural to extend our range and provide the Israeli public with connecting flights to various destinations at attractive prices in comfortable conditions."
Arkia's announcement today comes amidst negotiations between Arkia's management and its pilots' committee through representatives of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel). Arkia employs 80 pilots. The pilots recently declared a labor dispute, following what they described as "foot-dragging in negotiations for implementation of the international flight time limitation (FTL) regulations," which became effective in Israel this week. These regulations stipulate flying and rest hours for pilots in order to prevent incidents resulting from pilot fatigue.
Arkia said, "The company and its pilots have been working according to the FTL regulations, starting yesterday. There is no connection between the company's operations and financial negotiations."
Arkia is scheduled to receive a brand-new Airbus A321LR airliner soon, which will enable it to expand its routes to distant destinations. The company is set to take delivery of three such airliners.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 31, 2018
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