El Al Buffeted by Open Skies

YERUSHALAYIM -
Eliezer Shkedy, former CEO of El Al, seen during a launching for the new low-cost brand “Up” in November to compete with European carriers in the Open Skies regime. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
Eliezer Shkedy, former CEO of El Al, seen during a launching for the new low-cost brand “Up” in November to compete with European carriers in the Open Skies regime. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Fears that El Al Airlines would be hurt by competition from European carriers under the Open Skies agreement appear to be confirmed by losses reported for the first quarter of 2014.

El Al lost $39.7 million in the first quarter of 2014, up 22% from a loss of $32.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. Operating loss rose 52% in the first quarter to $51.9 million, Globes reported on Wednesday.

El Al’s revenue in the first quarter of 2014 was $416 million, down 3.6% from $431 million in the corresponding quarter of 2013.

El Al’s new CEO David Maimon, who succeeded Eliezer Shkedy in March, acknowledged Open Skies challenge. “The company is coping with increased competition in the quarter reflected in an 8% rise in traffic at Ben Gurion Airport and 15% rise in the capacity of foreign carriers,” he said.

One encouraging figure was that sales of flights online rose by 25% in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the corresponding quarter.