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El Al Considers Last Ditch Paper Shuffle to Save Sun D'Or

With the grounding of El Al's subsidiary imminant Israel's national carrier considers leasing Sun D'Or to avoid having it grounded.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 4/1/2011, 2:34 PM / Last Update: 4/1/2011, 2:28 PM

El Al may lease its subsidiary Sun D'Or International Airlines Ltd. to a third party to avoid being grounded, Globes reports.

Earlier this month, the Israel Civil Aviation Authority notified it was revoking Sun D’Or’s operating license as of April 1. This followed a notification by the Civil Aviation Authority a year ago Sun D’Or that it was not in compliance with aviation regulations because it was entirely dependent on El Al’s infrastructure.

With time running out, El Al Israel Airlines is considering an eleventh hour paper-shuffle to avoid the grounding of it's Sun D’Or by leasing the subsidiary's crews and planes to other airlines, most likely Arkia Airlines or Israir Airlines, which would allow them to operate on the Sabbath and holidays. The idea, which has not yet been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, could come into effect today.

Sun D’Or operates three Boeing 757 and El Al air crews. It operates as a designated carrier to European destinations, and carries out flights for El Al on the Saturdays and holidays. This enabled El Al to keep its 30-year plus status quo with religious and Charedi passengers by not flying on the Sabbath.

Aviation industry sources have expressed mixed feelings about El Al's proposed solution. An official for the Civil Aviation Authority said, “So long as they operate according to professional criteria, there is nothing to prevent the leasing.”

“This won’t last," a source told Globes. "And it isn’t a solution that will save them – buy a ticket on Sun D’Or, fly an El Al plane, and be listed as a passenger of a third airline.”

El Al has not made any formal announcement on the matter.