Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. has announced that it is ceasing to fly on Saturdays, the sabbath. Four months after the acquisition of the airline by Rami Levy and Shalom Haim (through BGI Investments (TASE: BGI), which the two of them control), it is halting Saturday activity. The flights concerned are on the Eilat route. Henceforth they will operate on Saturday evenings, after the sabbath ends.
Talking to "Globes" after the deal was completed, Haim said, "We paid dearly, but we expect that Israir will double its value." The valuation of Israir for the purposes of the deal was NIS 180 million.
In the interview, Haim commented on the intention to stop Saturday flights. "By personal conviction I'm a religious Jew who observes the sabbath, and all my businesses are closed on Saturdays. We respect those who observe the sabbath, and this is not a personal whim of mine, it's the DNA of Judaism.
"On the business side, we're at the examination stage. We'll examine the economic implications of the possibility of reducing activity on Saturdays. We want to reach a situation in which there's a weekly day of rest for the pilots as well. There are many businesses that don’t operate on Saturdays, and that can include aviation too.
"The discussion about the sabbath was mainly in the media, as a consequence of the world view of the shareholders, but we haven't yet gone into this in depth. We understand trade, but we still don't understand aviation as much. Within two to three months we'll be wiser in this respect."
And so, after a few months, it has been decided that the airline will stop flying on Saturdays. Israir thus joins El Al subsidiary Sun D'Or, which has also halted Saturday flights, which were mainly charter flights.
El Al itself does not operate passenger flights on Saturdays, and when it was taken over by Eli Rozenberg, this policy was extended to Sun D'Or.
In the past, Israir would operate El Al code-share flights on Saturdays, as a means of circumventing the ban, but this too will cease. The only Israeli airline now operating on Saturdays is Arkia.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 19, 2021
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