Disruptions of El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) flights recently led to a series of petitions for approval of a class action against the company involving various complaints. The most recent, filed yesterday, focuses on the company's complaint against its pilots - that they are deliberately making flights longer in order to increase their pay. The petition alleges that those affected include the passengers, as well as El Al, and that they are entitled to compensation. The petition estimates the compensation at NIS 50 million.
El Al management has complained that its pilots are making their flights longer, extending the duration of a light from Tel Aviv to New York by 45 minutes, for example (more time on the ground, a slower flight speed, etc.). The company said that the average length of a flight to New York increased from 11:50 in 2006 to 12:35 this year. The same complaint also applies to flights to other destinations, for example in Europe.
In the draft agreement between El Al's management and the pilots' committee, in which understandings were reached at the beginning of the week (the agreement has not yet been signed), this matter was raised, and a clause in the agreement stated that this behavior would be ended through a "bloc time" mechanism. In other words, a time is set in advance for every flight, and the pilots' salaries are calculated according to this time. The current class action petition, filed through Advocates Itzchak Miron, Dr. Itamar Miron, and Yarin Reuven of the Miron, Bension, & Prywes law firm, asserts that damage has been caused not only to El Al (fuel costs and wear and tear on airplanes), but also to passengers spending more time on board the airplanes.
"This is like a cab driver carrying a tourist in his cab from Holon to Bat Yam by way of Ramat Hasharon," the petition asserts. "No reasonable consumer could imagine that he would lose precious time and flights would be delayed because of the personal motives of the pilots… this constitutes real tyranny and disregard for the consumers' time." The artificial shortening of the flight time can also expand the continuation flight options for passengers upon arrival at the planned destination.
The petition also alleges that even if such conduct is legal, El Al is still obliged to report it to its passengers, enabling them to decide whether they want to conduct a transaction under these circumstances, or prefer to fly with a different airline. "For many years, El Al has known that its pilots were deliberately making their flights last longer in order to increase their salaries. The company is even complaining about this in its struggle against them. At the same time, where its passengers are concerned, it does not bother to inform them about this small matter. Needless to say, it does not plan to compensate them. It has simply been trying to conceal this for years, assuming that the consumer will accept anything. This class action will tell them that this cannot continue."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 30, 2016
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