"This is a testing time for the airline sector and El Al," El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) CEO Gonen Usishkin has written in an email to employees. "There are difficult days ahead and it is possible that we will be required to take dramatic steps and make painful decisions."
The email to employees came after El Al notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) saying that the carrier is caught in a crisis, not of its own making, because of the coronavirus outbreak, and the new, stricter restrictions imposed by Israel's Ministry of Health. Yesterday the Ministry of Health said that in addition to people returning from China needing to quarantine themselves for 14 days, so do travelers returning from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Thailand.
El Al has already halted flights from Tel Aviv to Beijing and Hong Kong and reduced the frequency of flights to Bangkok. Like all the world's airlines, The Israeli carrier is seeing a growing number of cancelations and a decline in bookings, and not only to East Asia.
Usishkin said, "We are in the midst of a global event and it is too soon to predict the impact. However, it is safe to say that this is already a testing time for countries around the world including Israel, the aviation sector and El Al."
He added, "In our estimates, there are already 5,000 Israelis in Thailand due to return to the country with El Al. Because the demand for those flights is mainly one-way we will have to make additional commercial adaptations."
Usishkin revealed that El Al has an agreement with the Ministry of health exempting its air crew on Bangkok flights from needing to go into quarantine after "returning from their mission."
Usishkin added, 'I promise you that we will do all we can in order to successfully get through these days and we will do so with responsibility, transparency, without haste, and most of all worrying for the safety of our passengers and ensuring the future of El Al."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 17, 2020
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