El Al may put end to ‘costly’ Cairo flights

El Al may put end to ‘costly’ Cairo flights

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
El Al may put end to ‘costly’ Cairo flights

Tourists are seen waiting at a hall in Cairo’s international airport in this file photo. AP photo

Israel’s El Al airlines is seeking to put an immediate end to its weekly flight to Cairo for the first time since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, the Maariv newspaper reported on Sept. 17.

The plans were laid out in a letter sent by El Al’s chief executive to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which pointed to heavy security requirements and high operational costs, rendering it not economically viable.

“Operating the flight route to Cairo and maintaining the necessary infrastructure for that requires a large amount of security and operational resources, and heavy economic expenditure which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually,” wrote CEO Eliezer Shakedi.

“Without any commercial justification and in light of the high economic cost of operating this line, El Al cannot continue to bear these heavy expenses,” said the letter, excerpts of which were published in Maariv.

The airline was not immediately available to comment on the report, but a spokesman for Lieberman confirmed receiving the letter.

El Al has been flying the route between Tel Aviv and Cairo for more than three decades, running at least one flight per week, Maariv said. But since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the unrest which followed, the airline decided to operate the service on a reduced basis according to commercial needs in order to fulfil government demands, Shakedi wrote.

The flights, he said, were almost empty, and if the airline were to continue operating them, it would need assurances about which government body would help foot the bill. In light of Israel’s strained ties with Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi, the foreign ministry fears the flights may never be reinstated.