El Al Postpones Reopening Until June 30

A passenger seen at the check-in counters at Ben Gurion Airport. (Flash90)

El Al Airlines has extended its suspension of passenger flights until June 30, with the exception of cargo and special flights, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday night.

The airline notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that the previous date for re-opening, June 20, had been pushed back over concerns about the pandemic.

Meanwhile, there were questions about the necessity of the delay.

Although the Airports Authority has completed all preparations to meet Health Ministry regulations for a re-opening, officials at the Ministry have failed to act, according to sources quoted by the Post.

“The plan to open the sky prepared by government officials is on paper only; no one will make a decision,” one of the sources said.

The postponement will not only mean additional loss of revenues, but could also jeopardize the professional certification of pilots and ground crews, necessitating months of retraining to meet international regulations and operate again, the sources said.

“When they want to open the skies, there will be no one to work with due to the stringent international regulatory competencies required,” an aviation expert said. “The need to retrain thousands of employees will not allow Israel to open its skies.”

Airports in more than 70 countries have recognized the problem and entered a gradual re-opening with a raft of health precautions, in order to avoid such long-term damage.