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Israeli airlines demand government bailout for COVID losses

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Israel’s flagship airline and two other local carriers demanded on Thursday that the government provide them with financial and regulatory support, warning that otherwise they could collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the travel industry.

A letter signed by the CEOs of El Al, Arkia and Israir — sent to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and a series of other lawmakers and officials — blamed government policies for cratering their businesses and urged a rollback of travel restrictions, claiming their industry had missed out on bailouts offered to other sectors.

“There are doubts that Israeli aviation companies will be able to survive the crisis without government support,” wrote El Al CEO Avigal Soreq, Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper and Israir CEO Uri Sirkis.

In the letter, the companies noted that the aviation industry has been in a crisis for a year and half because of the coronavirus outbreak — during which time they operated under “conditions of serious uncertainty” as travel demands dropped off.

The lull in passengers was directly influenced by government decisions and health ministry orders, the CEOs argued. Quarantine rules, entry bans on non-citizens or residents, and government calls to not take unnecessary flights all had an impact, the companies noted.

El Al had been financially struggling before the COVID pandemic hit and largely........

© The Times of Israel

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