El Al airplanes
El Al airplanes Flash 90

Israeli airline staff called a strike for Sunday to protest against a government proposal to finalize a deregulation plan with European carriers which they say would result in widespread layoffs, AFP reported.

"The strike is an existential one for the future of Israeli airline companies," a statement from the Histadrut trades union federation said on Thursday.

"The state must show national responsibility and adjust the plan so that it does not damage the Israeli air companies," it said.

It said staff of national carrier El Al and charter firms Arkia and Israir would stop work at 5:00 am (0200 GMT) on Sunday but did not say how long the stoppage would last.

In March 2012, Israel and the European Union initialed an "Open Skies" aviation agreement aimed at opening up and integrating their markets.

In line with the deal, European Union airlines will operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the world and Israeli carriers will also fly to airports across the EU, in a move that will reduce flight costs for travelers.