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El Al Grounded

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Nearly 1,000 passengers who planned to leave Israel on El Al flights Monday were stranded because of a sudden job action by pilots. Efforts were under way by El Al management to arrange alternative flights.

About a dozen pilots reported sick at midnight Sunday, claiming that they were not well enough to fly. But aviation observers noted that the pilots did not require medical attention and that they were really demanding a rescheduling of their vacations.

This is the second job action by El Al pilots this year. The El Al Pilots’ Association announced last week that 46 pilots would start a “mass vacation” beginning Tuesday. Under civil aviation regulations all pilots must take a 10-day consecutive holiday every year, and 132 of El Al’s 178 pilots had already scheduled their compulsory vacations. But the El Al management said that it and not the pilots individually would decide the vacation schedules. The pilots responded by calling in sick.

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