Concerns Mount For El Al Amid Coronavirus Crisis

This week, Israel confirmed its first “non-quarantined” case of coronavirus after it discovered an Israeli national from Italy tested positive for the virus. Swift action has been taken, with its national carrier, El Al, canceling flights to Italy effective today – February 28th. These flight suspensions add to a growing list of travel destinations to which the airline is canceling service.

Flights to Milan, Venice, and Rome have been suspended for the next two weeks. Photo: Getty Images

El Al has very little choice on the matter as the government plans to ban foreign nationals from entering Israel from Italy. This was announced yesterday by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri. As for Israeli nationals coming from Italy – these travelers have been instructed to immediately go home and quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Flight service to Italy and Thailand suspended

The following services have been canceled for a pre-determined amount of time, which is subject to change:

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Flights to Italy suspended from February 28th to March 14th. Cities include:

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  • Milan
  • Venice
  • Rome
  • Naples (under El Al subsidiary Sun d’Or)

The following services to east/southeast Asia are suspended during the following dates:

  • Bangkok, Thailand: March 2nd to March 27th
  • Tokyo, Japan: Service originally set to commence on March 11th has been postponed to April 4th
  • Beijing and Hong Kong: Flights remain suspended until at least May 2nd
El Al has also suspended flights to its far-east Asian destinations. Photo: Getty Images

Israeli outbreak countermeasures

In a statement on Wednesday, Israel’s Health Ministry urged Israelis to reconsider traveling abroad. The country is looking to isolate itself from the coronavirus outbreak that has spread quickly all over the world.

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“If you don’t genuinely have to fly — don’t do so,” the ministry said in a travel warning.

The outbreak will cost El Al more than US$50 million in lost revenue. Photo: Getty Images

Conclusion

As the situation continues to worsen, the financial impact on the airline becomes increasingly prominent. In fact, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed two weeks ago that it has cost El Al $50 million. This number has likely inflated since then, and will continue to grow as the outbreak continues.

Will your travel plans change as a result of the outbreak? Let us know in the comments.

Simple Flying has contacted El Al in search of an official statement or comment on the matter. At the time of publishing this article, no response has been received.

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