El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) has now been forced to suspend its flights to many European cities where there has been no major outbreak of the coronavirus.
Over the past few months, El Al has suspended flights to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, its new service to Japan, and Italy. But Israel has barred entry to all non-Israelis coming from these countries and insisted that Israelis returning from these countries put themselves into a self-imposed two week quarantine.
Now following a recommendation by the Ministry of Health that Israelis should refrain from unnecessary overseas travel, El Al is seeing plunging demand for all its flights. Among the routes now being suspended are Tel Aviv to Vienna, Budapest, Brussels and Frankfurt.
El Al said, "Due to the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak, and the recommendations by the Ministry of Health to the public, we are compelled to make commercial adjustments to certain flights, although as part of this we are providing alternative options on other flights. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."
El Al announced yesterday that it is laying off 60 pilots and 100 cabin crew who were hired recently and have not yet completed their training courses. The airline is also proposing laying off 1,000 of its 6,200 employees but have not reached agreement with the workers committee on the matter.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich have both promised El Al government aid to compensate for the coronavirus.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 2, 2020
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