JERUSALEM (Nov. 14)
An El Al spokesman said today that the threat of “legal sanctions and proceedings” against Israel made Sunday by an official of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Tel Aviv may be aimed at harming the Israeli carrier by limiting its landing rights. The spokesman, Moshe Eilat, said El Al officials were uncertain what motivated the threat by Joseph Di Palma, chairman of IATA’s taxation subcommittee. “We have had no contact with Di Palma while he was in Israel but we have to investigate,” Eilat said.
Di Palma said his subcommittee would recommend sanctions unless Israel abolishes its travel tax which the IATA official alleged was “anti-social, prohibitive and discriminatory.” He did not specify the nature of the sanctions. Israel has been pressing hard for additional landing rights in the United States for El Al to put it on a competitive basis with other foreign airlines and with Trans-World Airlines, the American flag carrier, its principal competitor. Di Palma is a TWA executive.
DOES NOT REFLECT IATA VIEWS
El Al said today that its managing director had received a cable from Knute Hammarskjold, director-general of IATA in Geneva, saying that Dl Palma’s statement was made on his “personal responsibility” and did not reflect the views of IATA. A Transport Ministry spokesman said yesterday that the travel tax on Israelis going abroad was not “illegal” or discriminatory. The spokesman noted that any IATA decision must be unanimous and that it was not likely that El Al, the State-owned carrier, would vote against its own government if the issue was raised by IATA.
El Al’s American landing rights are presently limited to New York’s Kennedy Airport. The carrier is seeking additional landing rights on the U.S. West Coast and at a Middle Western urban center. TWA enjoys rights for traffic to and from Israel in eight large American cities on both coasts and the Midwest.
(No immediate comment was available from El Al in New York. A spokesman for TWA told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Di Palma was in Israel in his capacity as a tax consultant for IATA and that the airline was in no way connected with his activities there. Di Palma is a legal counsellor to TWA.)