Israeli national carrier El Al is slashing its network as part of a cost-cutting plan forced by the Israel-Palestine troubles. At least 10 routes are targeted for closure according to the plan which is due to be approved this week.

El Al operates 32 aircraft to 45 cities, compared with 55 destination two years ago. Services to Johannesburg, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Manchester, Vienna and Copenhagen are set to be axed.

According to the country's new open skies policy, the government can award the rights to another Israeli airline if El Al does not operate on the route for six months. El Al president David Hermesh says that he has asked the minister of transport to consider a special waiver because of the unique situation caused by the tension between Israel and the Palestinian authority. Hermesh adds that flights to some destinations could be stopped "only for a few months".

The targeted routes are not loss-makers, but are not high-yield sectors. Cutting the network will allow El Al to redeploy aircraft to more profitable routes and will enable it to sell its Boeing 767s (Flight International, 13-19 February).

Source: Flight International