MIAMI – El Al (LY) has begun to brief some 1,600 employees who are in line to be laid off. The layoffs are part of the conditions surrounding LY’s obtaining a state-guaranteed US$300m bank loan.

El Al had recorded losses prior to the pandemic. Its base at Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion airport remains closed to non-essential flights – even as authorities make progress with the vaccine.

The airline will formalize the layoffs once it receives the financial assistance. Involved are around 1,600 permanent and temporary employees from all areas of the airline, including 71 out of 638 total pilots (72 have already left since the start of the crisis, 40 voluntarily.)

El Al 4X-EDD Boeing 787-9. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

Union Input

Airline unions can somewhat modify the decisions on which positions are covered in the layoff. But those actions must be within the limit of 15% of the total number, according

Sharon Ben-Yitzhak, president of the LY workers’ union, told the financial daily Globes that those laid off will benefit from “favorable retirement conditions based on age and length of service.”

An airline press release says LY now “begins to implement the company’s recovery plan from the coronavirus. Part of the plan, including the downsizing, will be carried out with sensitivity and respect, in partnership with the Histadrut trade union federation and in accordance with the signed labor agreements.”

Meanwhile, leave without pay for 5,245 El Al employees has been extended to March 31. As per the agreement, LY will repay the loan at 5% interest over five years, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

A wave of executives has left the company recently. Included are internal auditor Gil Bar; Lior Tanner, CEO of the El Al Matmid Frequent Flyer Club; MRO VP Yossi Barazani; and client services VP Amir Rogovsky.

Featured image: El Al 4X-ECA Boeing 777-258(ER). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways