The flight disruptions and cancelations that have plagued El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) over the past few days are escalating. Five more flights have been cancelled today - the 5.15 pm flight to London and the return to Tel Aviv, the 5.30 pm flight to Warsaw and the return to Tel Aviv, and the night flight to Madrid.
This follows the cancellation of three flights last night - from Ben Gurion Airport to New York, Boston and Moscow as well as two cargo flights to New York on Thursday.
This dispute has erupted despite an agreement signed between management and the pilots in December. However, the current disagreement was not covered by that agreement, which concerns the terms of employment of pilots aged between 65 and 67 - 40 in number. International regulations prohibit them from flying aircraft but the age of retirement in Israel is 67.
The solution is to employ these veteran pilots as instructors.
El Al management announced last night, "Despite the agreement signed with the pilots in which they committed to discontinue disrupting flights as instructed by their leader Nir Tzuk (head of the pilots committee), they have resumed disrupting the company's flights."
El Al continued, "In addition (to the cancellations), the pilots are disrupting training lessons and harming their colleagues, after the company put 10 instructors on leave after they all cancelled training together claiming sickness. The disruptions are being carried out despite the talks being conducted over the past few days under the auspices of the Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn on arranging the status of veteran pilots who have reached the age of 65 and can no longer fly after the State of Israel adopted international regulations in 2014 prohibiting flights by pilots over 65."
"The company's management always acts with responsibility and fairness towards the pilots who can no longer serve as active pilots. We do not expect the pilots' representatives to make every disagreement in talks into open or covert sanctions, which harm the company, employees and above all our customers who are held hostage."
The pilots committee said, "The company's management is lying to passengers: we, the pilots, are not taking any sanctions. We are operating all flights registered in advance. The fact is that no pilot who is not registered for a specific flight and is then called out at the last moment for a "special" flight during his daughter's birthday, has the motivation to do so when management is cruelly throwing into the garbage, and violating agreements, with the most experienced pilots and captains, aged 65, while brutally and unilaterally reducing their salaries by two thirds. The company's management is thus destroying El Al - the company that is our home."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 5, 2017
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