Israeli airlines crisis averted as compromise reached

El Al  picture: Eyal Yitzhar
El Al picture: Eyal Yitzhar

With a settlement agreed on overseas security personnel, the threat of cancellation has been removed from hundreds of El Al, Arkia, and Israir flights this summer.

The security crisis affecting flights by Israeli airlines has been solved. Hundreds of flights by El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) (and Sun d'Or), Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd., and Arkia Airlines Ltd. will take place on schedule. In recent years, following the open skies reform, all of the companies have been adding flights to new destinations. A lack of Israeli security personnel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the absence of authorization for hiring new employees in proportion to the number of flights put many flights in jeopardy. This concern has now been alleviated.

El Al's security department is responsible for the security of flights by all three Israeli airlines. 3,000 security personnel operate at airports throughout the world. Ministry of Foreign Affairs regulations set the number of employees at overseas station at 950. According to the new compromise arrangement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Security Council, this quota will be increased to 1,200, with the Ministry of Finance transferring money to the Ministry of Foreign affairs to pay for the increase.

The arrangement is valid until the end of 2018, after which the parties involved, including El Al's security department, which have to extend the agreement and find a solution that will accommodate the projected change in the volume of flights projected for next year.

It was also agreed that El Al would attend to the legal aspect with the security personnel. Legal services will be provided concerning employment, layoffs, hearings, etc. for the employees. According to the agreement, El Al will be part of the legal procedure through two lawyers it has hired for this purpose.

The employees hired for security work on flights by Israeli airlines are trained in Israel in accordance with the requirements determined by the Israel Security Agency. Hundreds of already trained employees who were put on hold because of the crisis can now be placed at overseas stations providing security services. Other employees hired by the security department in other countries include Israelis with foreign citizenship residing overseas and outsourcing employees, for example at the station in Moscow.

The security setup for flights by Israeli airlines has been in the hands of El Al's security department, and has been budgeted by the state (the companies pay 2.5% of all security costs). The security department was also recently in the headlines in the context of ban on the merger between El Al and Arkia imposed by the Antitrust Authority, which among other things stated that it foresaw problems in an El Al department being responsible for other airlines, because it would be exposed to the commercial plans of competing companies. El Al has argued for years that its security department is completely separate from the rest of the company.

Other views about the El Al security department see a need to establish a separate agency responsible for flight security. In view of the high cost, however, this idea has been dropped, at least for the moment. In other countries, the security of airlines is in the hands of the local civil aviation authorities.

The requirements for security procedures set by the Israel Security Agency have become more stringent with time, in view of the security events that have occurred around the world.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on March 1, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

El Al  picture: Eyal Yitzhar
El Al picture: Eyal Yitzhar
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