El Al management and the pilots’ committee continued on a collision course Wednesday, as two more flights were cancelled, casualties of an ongoing labor dispute.
Flight LY333, scheduled to take off from Ben Gurion Airport at 4:00 p.m. to Brussels, was cancelled, and the return flight from Brussels at 9:30 p.m. was therefore also cancelled, apparently due to a shortage of pilots, who have been making themselves unavailable in recent days.
Passengers, who in many cases learned of the schedule changes only after arriving at the airport, were given the option of switching to a different airline. Thanks to Israel’s recently instituted open skies policy, there was ample space on rival carriers.
El Al’s cabin crew and other company workers are also suffering from the pilots’ work actions, as they are also showing up for flights that are being cancelled and are sent home without being paid for working hours.
Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz called the war between the airline and the pilots a tragedy, and urged them to settle their differences as soon as possible:
“All those involved must end this dispute and preserve the asset of people’s loyalty to Israeli companies. Maintenance of loyalty and quality is the big key. A customer who leaves does not return. Contrary to expectations, El Al has found its place in the open skies policy, and its takeoff must not be shot down. The open skies reform has led to free competition and preservation of the soundness of the Israeli airlines. Israeli passengers have voted by getting on the plane, and the percentage of those traveling on Israeli airlines has risen.”
The pilots’ committee said on Wednesday that they will decide in the coming days whether to go on strike, and if so, when.