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El Al Mayfly Again

January 3, 1983
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The El Al cliff-hanger teetered over the weekend but came up today pointing skyward. Airline and court sources said some planes may be airborne within the next week or so, probably on the route to South Africa which the company apparently found its most lucrative in the past.

Israel’s notional air carrier, grounded for more than three months was facing liquidation, by decision of its shareholders, meaning the government which holds 98 percent of its shares. Talks about re-organization broke down last Thursday night and a Jerusalem district court said Friday it would appoint a permanent receiver this week to wind the company up and sell its assets to private interests.

But last night, at a meeting at his Jerusalem home, district court Judge Yaacov Bazak gave the temporary receiver, Amram Blum, permission to try to get the idle aircraft back into service as soon as agreement is reached on backpay for furloughed employes and severance and other entitlements for the many who will be dismissed.


There are money other debts amounting to millions of dollars. The government is expected to find the money. But there are other problems. The pilots still refuse to accept the agreement Histadrut signed last month with management on behalf of the airline’s 5000 odd employes. The pilots, the highest paid group in the company, say Histadrut cannot act as their bargaining agent on issues in dispute with management which impinge on aircraft safety, such as longer hours in the cockpits.

But the pilots are a minority of the workers. Airline sources say qualified pilots are in abundant supply ail over the world because of current airline business slumps

Judge Bazak accepted Blum’s choice of Rafi Harlev to replace Yitzhak Shander as president of El Al and has consented to Harlev’s decision to replace five of the airline’s eight vice presidents. That move would come as some consolation to the 500-600 permanent employes and the 350 temporaries slated for dismissal under the new labor contract.

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