Aviation

Israeli airline cancels some flights to the US due to coronavirus

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Israeli airline El Al will reduce the number of flights running to several countries, including the U.S., over a decline in demand due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

El Al on Friday canceled a flight to San Francisco and several other cities amid a global dip in travel due to fears concerning the coronavirus. A senior company official is calling it “an unprecedented crisis,” according to The Times of Israel.

Flights leaving for San Francisco on Friday morning were merged due to the low number of passengers on each plane, the company said.

The airline dropped all flights to China — where the outbreak originated — Hong Kong, Thailand and Italy, and delayed the launch of an uninterrupted route to Tokyo that was set to begin March 11, according to The Jerusalem Post.

After flights to Italy were halted last week, the company is cutting back on trips to several European countries reporting outbreaks of the virus.

Other flights to cities such as Barcelona, Spain; Zurich; Berlin; and Larnaca, Cyprus, have also been minimized over the falling demand amid the outbreak.

Israeli authorities announced Wednesday that Israelis returning from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland are required to participate in a 14-day quarantine, according to The Times of Israel.

El Al airlines also let go nearly 600 permanent workers Wednesday as the company experiences further financial losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The company said it plans on laying off 1,000 employees, roughly one-sixth of the airline’s 6,300 employees, according to the report.

“This is not an easy day and the steps we decided to take are painful, and are combined with a sense of responsibility and personal example,” said El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin.

El Al told Israeli investors last week that the company expects to see a loss of $50 million to $70 million in revenue between January and April.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the head of the union, Sharon Ben Itzhak, that measures are in place to assemble a committee to aid El Al and other Israeli airlines, according to the report.

The Tourism Ministry said Wednesday that the usual number of tourists entered Israel in February, despite existing conditions affecting El Al. The ministry reported 344,000 arrivals and an estimated tourist revenue of $486 million. 

Israel has confirmed 15 infections and no deaths from the coronavirus.

On Friday, global coronavirus cases climbed above 100,000 with more than 3,400 deaths reported. Data from Johns Hopkins shows at least 55,863 of those affected have recovered from the virus.

Tags Airline Airlines Aviation Benjamin Netanyahu Coronavirus El Al El Al

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