מטוס של אל על
An El Al plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport
Photo: Shutterstock
An El Al plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport

El Al to become leaner after government bailout

Aid packages proposed by Finance Ministry to help national carrier see company giving up major shares to state control, cancel some of its short haul fleet and suspend unprofitable routs

Reuters |
Published: 07.05.20 , 17:45
El Al's fate is expected to be decided in the coming days, with the Israeli carrier looking to reach a deal with workers on job and spending cuts to get government aid.
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  • An official at El Al, which has put almost all of its 6,500 workers on unpaid leave and suspended passenger service, told Reuters that its board will choose between two proposals.
    מטוס של אל עלמטוס של אל על
    An El Al plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Of the two proposals on the table, one includes $400 million in bank loans, 82.5% guaranteed by the state, and El Al issuing 150 million shekels ($43 million) in shares, requiring capital from controlling shareholders.
    A second is a $250 million, 75% state-backed loan plus a $150 million share offer, in which the government commits to buy whatever shares are not purchased by the public.
    הפגנה של עובדי אל על מול משרד האוצר בירושליםהפגנה של עובדי אל על מול משרד האוצר בירושלים
    El Al employees protesting outside the Finance Ministry's offices in Jerusalem
    (צילום: עמית שאבי )
    Either decision will drastically alter El Al since a key condition for receiving the loans is achieving $400 million of cost savings a year.
    Avi Edri, the chairperson of the transport workers union at the Histadrut labor federation, said 2,000 job cuts are likely, as well as salary reductions to pilots.
    "Without (government) money El Al will go bankrupt," Edri said. "We don't have any choice but to dismiss workers."
    El Al has signed a deal with flight attendants and is in talks with mechanics and pilots.
    El Al will also give up some of its fleet of short-haul Boeing 737 aircraft and eliminate unprofitable routes, although it will likely keep all its Boeing 787s, the official said.
    The airline, which owes some $350 million in customer refunds due to canceled flights after Israel closed its borders, lost $140 million in the first quarter.
    Even before the coronavirus outbreak, El Al faced increased competition, but the official said that it will eventually be profitable due to the drop in expenses.

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