El Al losses deepen during first quarter

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Israeli flag-carrier El Al’s operating losses deepened by more than 40% to nearly $52 million for the first quarter of this year.

The airline’s revenues for the three-month period to 31 March were down by 3.6% to $415 million.

But El Al recorded a 1.4% increase in expenditure, primarily from higher salaries and maintenance costs, leading to a halving of gross profits. Jet fuel costs were down by 1%, it says.

The carrier says there has been a notable increase in traffic from competing operators, particularly budget carriers, following introduction of an 'open skies' policy in Israel.

El Al posted a pre-tax loss close to $55 million and a net loss of nearly $40 million for the quarter.

Passenger traffic for the three months rose by 2% while El Al increased capacity by 3%, leading to a slight drop in load factor to 80.7%.