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El Al is Back in Business

January 18, 1983
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After a faltering start last week, El Al appeared to be back in business today following an unexpected agreement between the pilots and management. A scheduled flight took off this morning for Zurich and Rome. The airline management expressed hope that schedules would be “completely back to normal” by Passover.

El Al, grounded for the last four months and facing liquidation, resumed service last week with a return flight to Nairobi and Johannesburg on Wednesday. But 73 passengers booked on Friday’s flight to Istanbul had to be placed on a chartered aircraft because El Al pilots refused to fly under the new contract recently concluded between the company and Histadrut.

The pilots announced today that they ended their strike at the urging of Finance Minister Yoram Aridor. They said they were promised special tax rebates on severance pay to pilots who are dismissed. They agreed that six pilots would be dismissed and 15 others would take early retirement. El Al is reducing its personnel in all categories by about 10 percent as an economy measure under a reorganization scheme approved by the government.

The pilots have other disputes with management which they say are safety related. But they promised today to pursue them without interrupting flights.


Meanwhile, the Knesset Finance Committee today agreed to give the new El Al management another $15 million to allow for payment of the increased separation compensation for El Al workers to be dismissed under the reorganization plan.

Some committee members objected to the piecemeal payments to the national airline and said it should either be brought back to good health immediately or sold off to private entrepreneurs.

Transport Minister Haim Corfu said there was now no intention to sell the company, saying this had only been a “suggestion”put forward at one point in the negotiations with the staff. The Finance Committee is to meet again in a month’s time, to reconsider El Al’s financial position and government promises to provide it with further funds under the reorganization plan.

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