El Al flights to four European destinations were disrupted on Thursday when the pilots did not arrive to work as scheduled.
Hundreds of passengers waited as the flights to Munich, Bucharest, London and Budapest were delayed for several hours while El Al searched for pilots to fill in. The Munich flight had to be cancelled.
The pilots who were assigned to those flights did not show up, nor did they answer their cell phones, and their whereabouts were unknown.
Although no pilots’ strike had been called, the airline acknowledged that there have been compliance issues with the pilots in recent days, and apologized to its customers for the inconvenience.
“El Al CEO David Maimon and the management team have been working to find a way to implement the company’s plan for
industrial activity and to have flights departing on schedule — all while minimizing discomfort to the passengers.”
One El Al pilot told Ynet that the flight schedule has been in chaos: “Every week we receive our schedule for the planned flights, but in recent weeks we have been called up for unplanned, extra itineraries.”
The pilot stressed that the airline did not employ enough alternates. “There is a shortage of pilots, there are tired pilots, those who just returned from long-distance flights, and we cannot be asked to work on a moment’s notice,” he said.
The pilot added that El Al scheduled flights without planning for personnel: “They just try to find a last-minute solution. It is unfortunate that passengers are hurt but the company must hire additional personnel before the situation becomes much worse.”