Hundreds of El Al passengers were stranded Sunday night after their pilots failed to show up and the flight was canceled.
The pilots’ absence is apparently connected to a disagreement over how much they should be paid on their return flights to Israel, during which they fly as passengers in business class.
Monday night’s return flight from Newark to Tel Aviv is also canceled.
In a post on their Facebook page, El Al wrote, “As a result of the pilots’ sanctions and their insistence on flying one way only, tonight’s flight 027 to Newark has been canceled, as well as tomorrow’s return flight to Tel Aviv. The company will refund all of the passengers’ tickets.
“The pilots’ sanctions have been hurting the company for several months already. The sanctions are expressed in the fact that the pilots refuse to answer to anyone, and in their refusal to fly back and forth as active pilots, instead insisting on flying one way only.
“We apologize for the inconvenience to our passengers, but we have no choice but to return order to our company’s activities,” the post concluded.
The pilots’ committee insists El Al is not telling the truth.
The pilots’ sanctions, they claim, are a result of the disagreement between the pilots and El Al’s management.
According to the pilots, the company must pay them full wages even during their trip back home as passengers. However, El Al claims that since the pilots are sitting in business class and not actually flying the plane, there is no reason to pay them a full salary for those hours.
In the coming days, El Al pilots are expected to announce an official ‘work dispute’ with the company, a move which, according to Israel’s labor laws, will allow them to call an organized strike as long as they give 14 days warning.
In the meantime, several flights were canceled over the last few months due to the pilots’ sanctions, with El Al being forced to hire pilots who get paid by the hour to fly their passengers. El Al claims the pilots’ sanctions caused the company to be ranked last in terms of punctuality.
In the past several months, the pilots have done several things to avoid flying. In some cases, they claimed to be slightly sick, or that they drank alcoholic beverages in the hours prior to the flight. It is absolutely forbidden to fly a plane after drinking alcoholic beverages, so every complaint of this type left the company stranded.