This is a continuation to our discussion about LYs new request regarding Foreign Airlines flights to Israel.
Foreign airlines: Sneh committed to increasing our Israel flights
A member of the foreign airlines forum told "Globes" that at a meeting several weeks ago, Minister of Transport Ephraim Sneh committed to immediately approving requests by foreign airlines to increase scheduled flights to and from Israel.
This contradicts the stand taken by the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA), which comes under the Ministry's jurisdiction. The CAA is examining El Al's request to cancel flights by major foreign airlines, such as Lufthansa (17 weekly flights) and Alitalia (24).
Stefan Semsch, general manager of Lufthansa Israel, told ''Globes'', "At a meeting with Minister of Transport Ephraim Sneh, we understood that he would support every request to increase the number of scheduled flights."
The CAA is normally inclined to adopt El Al's stand in disputes with foreign airlines. Two years ago, the CAA prevented SwissAir from increasing its flights to and from Israel, claiming that most of its passengers continued to destinations other than Switzerland.
Acting CAA head Arik Ben-Arie said discussions were taking place with CAA organizations in Italy and Germany to set a low weekly flight quota, taking into consideration all factors, including the tourism situation and the stand taken by Israeli and foreign airlines.
Lufthansa is the only large foreign airline that managed to increase the number of its passengers in July and during the Intifada. Semsch said occupancy was also high on flights from Germany to Israel. Semsch said, "Average occupancy on flights from Germany to Israel is 74%. This is a little lower than the 86% on flights from Israel."
Cancellation of scheduled flights is liable to have diplomatic consequences. If scheduled flights to Israel are canceled, it is feared that countries might retaliate against El Al's flights. Reducing the number of flights flies in the face of the tough stand taken by the Ministry against airlines that canceled flights to Israel because of the security situation. Sneh even threatened to take legal action against these airlines.
Published by Israel's Business Arena on 27 August, 2001