Israir plane impounded in Lisbon over alleged debt


(JTA) — Aviation authorities at Lisbon’s airport impounded one of Israir’s six airplanes over a debt allegedly owed by the Israeli company to a Portuguese one.

Israir’s Airbus A320 was confiscated at Lisbon Portela Airport on Monday morning, according to the Portuguese news website, which first reported the story on the plane’s confiscation at the request of the Portuguese airline euroAtlantic.

The plane was supposed to take off that day with a group of tourists who traveled with Israir to Portugal last week, the report said.

EuroAtlantic’s president, Tomaz Metello, told the Lusa news agency that Israir has a debt of several million euros dating back to seven years ago and that Portugal’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of euroAtlantic’s lawsuit against Israir in December. The motion to have the plane impounded followed Israir’s failure to pay the debt, he added.

But Uri Sirkis, Israir’s CEO, told Ynet his firm has appealed the verdict and that the legal procedure was still ongoing.

“We were very surprised by euroAtlantic’s decision to make such a violent and extreme move,” he said in an interview with the Ynet Hebrew news website. “In the aviation industry, the passenger comes first and euroAtlantic’s decision to cross that line is unfortunate.”

Israir provided food and accommodation to the dozens of passengers stranded in Lisbon. Meanwhile, the airline had to cancel one of its domestic flights in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Eilat, because of the temporary loss of one of its airplanes.

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