The saga is coming to an end. EL AL will stop flying to Eilat, the resort town on the Red Sea, after clashing with the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The dispute began when the president of EL AL decided to cancel the airline’s daytime flights from Ben Gurion airport to Eilat, in southern Israel. He claimed that the new visual direct final approach pattern was not safe.
The new pattern, a result of “security considerations”, had been announced by the CAA.
While EL AL claims that the new approach pattern to Eilat airport is not safe, the two other Israeli airlines, Arkia and Israir, have continued to fly there, with ATR-72s but also with Boeing 757s and Airbus A-320s.
EL AL announced that a repeated evaluation confirmed its belief that the new approach pattern cannot ensure the required safety standard of its flights on the route.
So EL AL stopped its daytime flights to Eilat and performed only some night-time flights.
The CAA is not ready for any further waivers and EL AL will also cease night-time flights on the domestic route on November 18.
An EL AL spokesman said: “In the current situation we cannot continue our operations on the route.”
EL AL should not have started the route. The airline still says that its decision was based on solid profit calculations, but when you operate a taxi service in the narrow streets of a city, with a full size bus, the calculations can look very fragile.
A more credible reason could be an EL AL reaction to the fact that the other two Israeli airlines received flight rights to destinations served until then only by EL AL.
As I mentioned before, EL AL rejects that version of events, but airline sources said that flying on the short domestic route with 737s was “very wrong”.
So EL AL will quit this adventure, leaving Arkia and Israir on the route. The forces of nature in most cases arrange things in the universe, this time on a minor issue like flights on one domestic route in Israel.