El Al airplane
El Al airplane Photo: Moshe Shai / Flash90

The Knesset's Economy Committee met Wednesday morning for a special discussion on the future of Israel's airlines.

Participating in the meeting were representatives from El Al, Arkia, and Israir.

Israel closed its borders to foreigners earlier this year, leading to a nearly-complete collapse of the air travel industry.

El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin said: "El Al and the other airlines have been dealing with the coronavirus crisis since the end of January. Currently, there is no clear answer regarding when the skies will reopen and which destinations we can fly to. The lack of certainty creates a significant difficulty."

El Al, he added, "has put 90% of its employees on unpaid leave until the month of July. El Al is negotiating for support from the State and for loans with guarantees. We need a plan and policy for setting guidelines and criteria for aid. Even if the skies reopen, the crisis will accompany us for a long time."

"Without aid from the State, we will not be able to recover from this crisis. Even the strongest airlines in the world received aid from their governments."