El Al's efforts to block the entry of Israeli charter carriers onto new routes has ignited an unprecedented turf war among the country's airlines.

A few days after Israel's largest charter carrier Arkia declared its plan to serve Thai holiday resort Phuket, El Al moved in with a series of flights forcing Arkia to cancel its service. According to El Al, its charter subsidiary Sun D'or is planning a series of flights to Phuket.

"This is the worst type of commercial terrorism. An airline owned by the government acts wildly against all codes of conduct even between competitors," says Israel Borovitch, Arkia's president.

Arkia planned to operate a weekly Boeing 757-300 flight to Phuket, with a stopover in the Seychelles. The airline already reconfigured the aircraft and signed agreements with tourist operators on the island.

Borovitch says that the situation where the government is the owner of El Al and also the aviation regulator, creates "unacceptable situations... while El Al can afford to lose more money, we can not. So we cancelled the flights."

Source: Flight International