Globes reports: The planes have returned to the skies, for the time being, but the ground at El Al is burning. Eleven of the airline’s flights were canceled last week. For the first time since 2018, passengers received messages telling them that their flights had been cancelled due to “operational circumstances.”
The reality behind that bland phrase is that no pilots turned up for the flights. Although there is a labor agreement with the pilots in force, El Al’s management realizes that things could get out of hand, and a meeting is expected to be held with the pilots today. The management intends to enter into negotiations, and it can be presumed that the pilots will receive at least some of their demands.
The passengers, whose faith is a crucial component of the recovery of El Al from the hole it sank into because of the coronavirus pandemic, along with the rest of the aviation industry, were unsparing in their justified criticism of the disruption to their plans. Murky relations between airline managements and their pilots are not exclusive to El Al, and the cancellation of flights as an act of protest is not a rare phenomenon in the industry, but a different notification might perhaps have mitigated the anger.
A plane left standing on the ground also has operational implications for maintenance crews. Their anger at the pilots is longstanding, and it doesn’t take much to rekindle it: leaving eleven planes on the ground is certainly enough.
The maintenance workers responded with an act that could easily be considered a direct insult to El Al’s new CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia, but as far as they were concerned it was directed straight at the pilots: the cancellation of El Al’s participation in the Independence Day fly-past. El Al called the incident “serious” and said that it would be investigated to ensure there would be no repeat of it, expressing regret that “El Al was prevented from taking part in the festive fly-past on Independence Day.”
Meanwhile, El Al is trying to reassure passengers and investors. In a notice to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, it stated: “From May 6, 2022, the company returned to operation in accordance with its planned flight schedule.” The question is, how long will the peace last? Read more at Globes.