El Al posts significant rise in Q3 net profit

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Israeli flag-carrier El Al has posted a third-quarter net profit of $42.5 million, up from the $12.3 million net profit recorded in the same period last year.

Operating costs rose 6% to $426.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2009, which the airline attributes mainly to increased fuel costs, and load factors decreased to 83.8% from 85.1%. Revenue increased by 13% to $561.2 million.

Positive cashflow "provides a solid basis to further develop the company", says El Al chief executive Elyezer Shkedy, adding: "The significant cash balance of about $191 million provides solid ground to take advantage of opportunities and to develop growth engines and additional revenue sources. We hope to continue our improvement and growth."

Among highlights of the quarter, Shkedy points to the start of controversial domestic flights from Tel Aviv to the Red Sea resort of Eilat, given the go-ahead by an Israeli court after objections from Israeli carriers Arkia and Israir were dismissed. Shkedy says that the airline flew 37,000 passenger legs on the route in its first two months of operation, a 16% market share.

He also notes the signing of an interline agreement with US carrier JetBlue Airways, which gives El Al access to a wide range of US, Latin American and Caribbean destinations.