Five days after an El Al aircraft landed on Shabbat, the company has issued an apology to the Orthodox religious community for the incident. The company took out an advertisement in the two most popular religious publications and wrote that it intends to continue observing the Shabbat and will honor the agreement it signed with the 'Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat.'
The current affair comes at the heels of yet another dispute between the Orthodox public and the airline over company activity on Shabbat. On Friday of last week an El Al flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv was forced to land in London due to technical difficulties. Despite the late hour, the flight was ordered to continue as planned.
Because Shabbat was approaching, El Al authorities decided to 'transfer' the flight to their charter company, Sun D'Or Airlines. Religious passengers were sent to various London hotels for the weekend while the plane that had "switched companies" landed in Ben Gurion Airport after Friday at sundown.
El Al has been operating Sun D'or since the 1970's and the company openly flies on Shabbat. The haredi public however decided to treat Sun D'or differently as their crafts do not bear the El Al logo and are therefore considered a separate company. The Halacha, or Jewish law, therefore defines this status as 'private Shabbat desecration.'
"El Al is troubled by the desecration of this last Shabbat which was caused by the landing of a passenger plane after Friday at sundown," the company wrote in the public apology on Wednesday, "the company sought to land the plane in an alternate destination but for security reasons this was not made possible. Other than this unfortunate incident, the company has adhered to the agreement and will continue to do so in the future."
Rabbis say it was one-time slip
The El Al statement was published alongside an announcement issued by the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat, which said El Al management assured them that the incident is a one-time slip, which will never happen again.
El Al said in response: "The company's concern is the good of all its clients, this while observing agreements made with clients and suppliers… as the national airline El Al is aware of the sensitivity of its religious clients and is doing everything possible to avoid harming those feelings, alongside its commitment to the whole of its clientele.