Israel-Hamas war: Airlines lose $155m., call to end cancelation refunds


Israel’s airlines have collectively lost approximately $155 million as a result of canceled flights ever since the war with Hamas in Gaza began. As such, airline companies on Tuesday called for the suspension of the Tibi Law, which entitles customers to financial compensation due to canceled flights.

In a meeting with Knesset Economic Affairs Committee chairman MK David Bitan (Likud), Shlomi Zafarani, vice president of commerce at El Al, said that on October 7, El Al voluntarily took on additional flights, even though it is not a government-owned company.

He emphasized that the company is committed to providing exceptional service and not taking advantage of the situation for profit. Zafarani highlighted the vital role of Israeli aviation, stating, “If El Al did not exist, the airport would be on the verge of closing. We handle almost 80% of air traffic – something that is often overlooked.”

El Al Israel Airlines planes are seen on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel March 10, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Why are airlines not part of the Israeli compensation plan amid the war with Hamas?

At the start of the meeting, Bitan noted that the aviation industry was excluded from the general compensation plan to help businesses impacted by the war with Hamas. He inquired whether the Transportation Ministry and Finance Ministry had initiated discussions regarding a specific compensation plan for Israeli aviation companies.

Bitan further stressed the need to review the aviation services law and remove the obligation to financially compensate for cancellations for this particular situation.