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Video: Airport Strike Does not Ruin Good Memories of Israel

INN Video: Many passengers say good memories overcame the short height-of-season airport strike that ended Monday.
By Yoni Kempinski and Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/13/2010, 12:15 PM / Last Update: 9/13/2010, 12:26 PM

Flash 90

Many passengers stuck in Ben Gurion International Airport during the short strike that ended Monday afternoon told Israel National News TV that their good memories of Israel overcome any bad feelings about the travel delays. One traveler said the strike will make him miss business meetings overseas.  

The 7.5-hour strike ended following a successful conclusion to the talks between the Finance Ministry and the Airport Authority workers.   

One man said his short stay in Israel during the strike was "fantastic," and a woman said that Israel is a "very secure country" and that during the delay, "we had wonderful memories to think about."

The strike began at 9 a.m. Monday when workers at Ben Gurion announced that the negotiations they had been holding with the Finance Ministry had reached an impasse, and declared that they were on strike.  This week is the busiest of the year at Ben Gurion, with many thousands leaving and arriving for the holidays. 

Flights that were in-air when the strike was announced were permitted to land, but their luggage was not unloaded, nor were passengers permitted to undergo passport checks. Outgoing flights that were on the runway at 9:00 were permitted to take off; the passengers on other flights were turned back and waited in one of the terminals for the end of the work stoppage.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov immediately asked Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to instruct the clerks of the Finance Ministry to enter into “intensive, fair and transparent negotiations with the Airports Authority workers regarding their pension rights, as anchored in government obligations in past years.”

“The tourism industry is currently at the height of Israel’s best tourism year ever,” Misezhnikov wrote to Steinitz. “The ramifications of a strike precisely now on incoming tourism to Israel will be very significant in the short range, causing suffering to tourists and passengers who will have to wait for hours before entering or leaving Israel – and in the long range as well, staining Israel’s image as a welcoming, high-quality tourism country.”

Some 12,000 passengers were expected to arrive Monday, and another 16,500 were expected to leave. 

Dozens of Breslover Hassidim who returned this morning from their annual Rosh HaShanah visit to Rabbe Nachman’s gravesite in Uman, Ukraine were not very happy at having their luggage withheld. Some of them sang and chanted, "We want our suitcases!' and  jumped on the luggage conveyor strips; police were called in to restore order. They were later informed, though not before some of them had left for home, that their luggage would be unloaded, so that the planes could return to the Ukraine to bring home more Breslovers.