"The flight was cancelled for operational reasons" is how El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) explains the cancellation of flight 015 to Boston that was scheduled to take off from Tel Aviv this morning.
The flight cancellation is one of a spate of such cancellations by El Al in the past two weeks: four flights were cancelled to Boston, one flight was cancelled to Beijing and another to Hong Kong.
On the other side of El Al's laconic statement are the airline's suffering passengers whose plans have been ruined. They generally receive notice of cancellation just a day before the flight date.
Should these cancellations be taken as a warning of what to expect in this summer's peak travel season? It's impossible to ignore what is happening behind the scenes at El Al. After its latest financial statements showing plunging profitability and after the airline announced that it would stop paying commissions to travel agents, it has still to conclude the negotiations with its pilots (via a mediator) that have dragged on for ten months. El Al needs to ensure industrial quiet and sign labor agreements that provide for greater efficiency, particularly in view of new Flight Time Limit regulations that will come into force at the end of this October and that specify rest periods for pilots.
Moreover, El Al regularly sets a schedule in which flights are not fully manned in advance. Placement staff telephone pilots every day, all day, to crew flights despite the fact that the flights were planned long since.
In this way not only does El Al put many flights in question, but it also conducts its business wastefully, since a pilot assigned ad hoc to a flight that was not in his original schedule is paid more. Was this the reason for the cancellation of the flight to Boston and of the previous flights?
The El Al pilots committee said in response to the report, "El Al's pilots are working to the limit of the restrictions under the law and the labor agreement in order to maintain the heavy summer flight schedule that the company planned, and in order to serve the passengers. There were pilots available to man the flight that was supposed to leave for Boston this morning."
As mentioned, as far as El Al is concerned it was a case of "operational reasons."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 14, 2018
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