Amidst the ongoing travel restrictions at home and globally, Israeli airline El Al has extended its flight suspension until July 31st. After some positive developments when the airline recently received government assistance, this is another setback for the troubled carrier.
Extending the flight suspension
Israeli flag-carrier El Al has once again extended the suspension of its flight operations. Announced via its website, it will now ground flights until July 31st.
El Al first suspended all flights from March 27th, citing strict travel restrictions in Israel and a significant drop in demand, as well as concerns for staff safety. This suspension has been repeatedly extended.
Early in June, it had already confirmed there would be no flights before June 30th. With a ban on foreign entry into Israel and quarantine requirements for anyone who can arrive, it is not surprising that there is insufficient demand to justify flights.
Limited flights before August
Although the airline has announced there will be no return to operations before August, there are a few flights planned. Since it suspended flights in March, it has continued with some minimal cargo operations and occasional passenger flights.
Its website lists one special flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv on June 27th. It will also operate limited regular flights to Paris and London. These will take place twice a week in a loop to both cities, and additionally once a week to Paris from July 7th.
It has also operated some impressive rescue flights. In late March it operated its first direct flight to Australia, flying 230 citizens home from Perth using a Boeing 787 aircraft. It also flew four 787 aircraft to Lima to rescue stranded citizens, with direct return flights becoming the longest flights ever operated by the airline.
Tough times for El Al
Like many airlines, El Al has had a rough 2020. In addition to flight suspension since late March, 90% of its staff are on unpaid leave and executives have taken a cut in compensation. It has also made several fleet changes. It has canceled leases on two more Boeing 737 aircraft and made a deal to sell and lease back three others in its fleet.
It’s financial problems however started before then. The airline recorded a $60 million net loss for 2019, up from a loss also in 2018. Concerns over its survival lifted slightly though after it received a loan offer worth $250 million from the Israeli government, announced on June 8th. Also, a further $150 million would be raised through the sale of shares through the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
It is not yet clear whether this will happen, but it leaves the airline in a slightly more optimistic position, despite flight suspensions being extended.
Simple Flying contacted El Al for further comments about its flight suspension but had not heard back by the time of publishing.
What do you think about El Al’s continuing problems? When will the airline return to operations, and in what state? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.