EL AL HAS ASKED the Israeli Government to fund its security budget in full, as the state-owned airline struggles with a fall in tourism and the prospect of mounting losses.

At the half-year stage, forecasts suggest that the state-owned airline will end 1996 showing a loss of $40-60 million. The gloomy prediction follows a sharp decline in the number of tourists over Israel's summer season.

The Government funds around 80% of El Al's annual $100 million security budget, but chairman Joseph Ciechanover confirms that it has asked the state to "-increase its participation". He says: "We can not compete with other airlines flying to Israel, with that burden on us. We are in a unique situation and the Government will have to understand that."

The security budget has been identified as a major hurdle in the airline's planned privatisation, together with the ban on flying on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) and other religious holidays.

Source: Flight International