Ministry of Transport spokesperson has announced that Minister of Transport Miri Regev has "been given a budget by the Ministry of Finance" to keep planes flying to Eilat. Uri Sirkis the CEO of Israir, which operates five flights per day between Ben Gurion airport and Ramon Airport near Eilat, had been threatening to halt the service if government assistance was not forthcoming.
Although no financial details about the assistance was disclosed, it is believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of shekels. Israir is adding to more daily flights between Ben Gurion airport and Eilat and will operate seven flights in each direction daily including a flight leaving Eilat at 7.30am for Eilar residents needing medical treatment in the center of the country.
At present Israir charges a NIS 159 fare in each direction and NIS 99 for Eilat residents. In all likelihood, the government will pay Israir the NIS 60 difference for Eilat residents in order to make the route profitable.
Israir currently has a monopoly on domestic flights to Eilat. Arkia Airlines Ltd., which before the Covid-19 crisis had a 70% market share of domestic flights to Eilat, has grounded its entire fleet and put staff on unpaid leave until at least the end of August.
Meanwhile, Israir has reported that it will receive 75% state guarantees for loans of up to NIS 140 million, which is higher than the NIS 93 million previously reported. The loan will be repaid over seven years, with the airline paying only interest in the first year.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 8, 2020
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