The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) at the Transportation Ministry looked into allegations that Arkia pilots fell asleep on the job, Haaretz discovered on Wednesday.
Both the IAA and the airline ultimately said the suspicions were baseless, but Arkia officials say the company's management is involved in a cover-up.
The suspicions concern two recent Arkia flights to Europe. During both flights, staff reported pilots sleeping at the helm of the Boeing 757 planes.
In the first incident, a flight attendant reportedly attempted to reach the cockpit through an internal radio. When no pilots responded, he entered the cockpit and found them asleep.
In the second incident, which occurred some two weeks ago, the pilots were reportedly discovered sleeping by another flight attendant.
Arkia sources, who requested anonymity, told Haaretz, "A cover-up exists at the company regarding these two incidents." They said that those involved or know the details did not formally complain out of fear of the response of Arkia's new management.
"Many people in the company know about these severe security incidents, but are scared to speak up," the sources said.
The sources also said that since the airline's ownership switched hands, pressure has gone up on employees to work as many flights as possible. They say that pilots are overworking themselves, affecting their ability to function.
Arkia said in response to the suspicions, "These rumors have reached the ears of Arkia's management and the Israel Airports Authority. Arkia has carried out an in-depth examination including all of those allegedly involved as well as those who spread the rumors, and we have found that the rumors are baseless and never happened."
According to the company, "Arkia pilots are professional, responsible and accountable, characteristics of Israeli pilots in general."
A senior public relations official at the Transportation Ministry confirmed the airline's stance, saying, "An examination we carried out with Arkia reveals that these incidents never took place."