El Al CEO: 'Painful decisions' may be required

CEO of El Al says airline faces 'trying times' due to coronavirus outbreak. Transportation Minister Smotrich calls on state to help.

Tal Polon ,

El Al
El Al

“Difficult days lie before us, and it may be that dramatic steps and painful decisions will be required,” El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin wrote in an email to employees.

The email came after the Israeli airline notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that it was facing a crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak and new measures imposed by the Health Ministry, according to Globes. On Sunday, the Health Ministry announced that, in addition to those returning from China, travelers returning from Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau would also be required to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, El Al has temporarily canceled its flights to Beijing and Hong Kong, and reduced flights to Bangkok.

“These are trying times for the countries of the world, including Israel, the aviation sector and El Al,” Usishkin said. “We have known difficult times in the past, and have always found it in ourselves to unite, make difficult decisions, overcome and ultimately emerge victorious and stronger.”

“One thing is clear,” he added. “We will not compromise our values ​​- safety and security will always be our top priority, and with that our responsibility to our customers and our people."

“I promise you that we will do everything we can to get through these days, and we will do so with responsibility, transparency, and without haste, and especially with concern for the wellbeing of our customers and ensuring the future of El Al.”

On Tuesday, Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich said that the government would have to compensate El Al for losses it is incurring as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The state will have to put its hand in its pocket and compensate the airline,” Smotrich told Reshet Kan Bet. “In El Al they’re talking about losses on a scale of 50 million dollars. If the state wants to protect its aviation - it needs to help,” he said.