El Al Crisis Solved, Airline and Union Says

An EL AL Boeing 777 aircraft is seen at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Reuter/Nir Elias/File Photo)

The labor crisis at El Al is over, management and representatives of the pilots announced Thursday morning. In a statement, El Al said that it was “satisfied with the arrangements that will allow for the pilot retirement issue to be resolved, and we apologize to our passengers for the inconveniences they have experienced recently. We are positive that we can restore service to our traditional levels of excellence.”

For months, pilots have staged numerous work outages, stopping short of striking altogether, as they demanded that management sign contracts guaranteeing salaries and pension rights. Dozens of flights were canceled or delayed, and embittered passengers began abandoning the carrier in droves.

The latest work dispute between pilots and management revolves around conditions for pilots who have reached the age of 65 and can no longer fly, but are still employed by El Al. Under an international agreement signed by Israel in 2014, pilots 65 and older are no longer allowed to fly planes, although under their contracts with El Al they can remain on the job until age 67.

Under the new agreement, the older pilots will train their younger replacements and supervise their work on airplane simulators, and will retain their full monthly salaries – around NIS 65,000 per month. The pilots will conduct ten simulator sessions per month – more than they had initially wanted. The hours will be flexible, meaning they may work more months in the winter than in the summer, when all staff will be flying, but will receive their regular salaries throughout. The airline, for its part, insisted on being in charge of all the scheduling.