Israeli carrier El Al is urging pilots to ensure flight schedules are met, after multiple cancellations over a dispute with the company.

El Al says it has contacted its pilots’ committee seeking “immediate” negotiations over the matter.

The company says it has been forced to cancel services in recent days for “operational reasons”.

El Al is facing the disruption just as the carrier is starting to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, which have resulted in heavy losses and difficult efforts to restructure the airline’s finances.

It had recorded a surge in sales during the first quarter, as travel restrictions by governments were lifted, and the volume of operations improved.

Over the course of this year, monthly sales rose from $85 million in January to $267 million in May. Sales for March and May exceeded the pre-crisis levels of 2019.

The carrier still turned in losses of $66 million for the period, but it believes it will move towards profitability by the end of 2023.

El Al fleet-c-El Al

Source: El Al

El Al has faced a number of flight cancellations in recent days

But El Al says it does not expect to realise full production potential this year, and it is trying to avoid further risks to the operation from pilot action.

While the pilots’ actions have been disrupting the recovery, trade union centre Histadrut has signed two agreements with other aviation workers at El Al, acknowledging their efforts to deal with a higher workload in the maintenance and administrative sectors.

Histadrut says a shortage of personnel has increased employees’ workload in these areas, and staff have gone “above and beyond” to meet the challenge.

The agreements will provide a salary increase over May and June, it adds, and further increases for meeting performance targets.

“At a time when the population of Israel wanted to go out and explore the world again, it was El Al’s ground workers who did everything they could to withstand the surge and still allow a smooth transition at [Tel Aviv] Ben Gurion airport,” says Histadrut chair Arnon Bar-David.

He says the workers have dealt with a “meteoric rise” in demand, and enabled passengers to head off on vacation following the pandemic.