El Al is to decrease its cargo carrying capability in reaction to an Israeli Government committee recommendation to allow a private company to fly scheduled cargo services from the country.

The committee, headed by the director-general of the Israeli ministry of transport, has recommended that Cargo Air Lines (CAL) should be permitted to become the country's second cargo carrier.

CAL was established in the mid-1970s by Israeli agricultural organisations to export perishable goods to Europe. CAL's entire operations currently use the El Al fleet.

The committee's recommendation, if accepted by the transport minister, will allow CAL to purchase or lease its own cargo aircraft. El Al claims the competition is unfair because the airline will be free to operate seven days a week while the flag carrier is not allowed to operate on the Jewish Sabbath.

Flights with perishables are allowed to operate on the Sabbath, but El Al fears the new airline will hurt its general cargo business.

According to Menashe Terem, El Al's vice-president operations, the emergence of an independent rival may force it "-adjust the fleet", and lease out a 747 freighter.

Source: Flight International