Israel's largest private airline, Arkia, is to appeal to the country's Supreme Court in a final effort to gain approval to fly scheduled services to destinations not served by El Al.

According to Arkia's president Israel Borovitch, the Israeli ministry of transport has so far turned down all the airline's requests to fly to destinations in eastern Europe. The rights to these destinations, which include cities such as Sofia, Tashkent and St Petersburg, are held by state-owned El Al, but are not used. Arkia's efforts to take over the rights have so far failed.

"This is our last hope...the Supreme Court will have to rule whether our demand is justified," says Borovitch. A committee headed by Avner Yarkoni, director general of the Israeli civil aviation authority (CAA) has recommended that private airlines can operate scheduled flights on routes not served by El Al, but this has not been implemented.

"The problem begins with the fact that the Israeli Government is the regulator and also the owner of El Al," says Borovitch.

Arkia's fleet has recently expanded with the introduction of two new Boeing 757-300s, and the airline plans to purchase another 757-200.

Source: Flight International