News: Israeli airline to fly on Sabbath

Israel's national airline may soon be able to fly on the Sabbath, freeing it to increase services to and from Britain and to cut its costs dramatically. In 1982 the Israeli government ordered El Al to ground its planes between sunset on a Friday and sunset the following Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). No aircraft are allowed to take off, land or be airborne.

Israel's national airline may soon be able to fly on the Sabbath, freeing it to increase services to and from Britain and to cut its costs dramatically. In 1982 the Israeli government ordered El Al to ground its planes between sunset on a Friday and sunset the following Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). No aircraft are allowed to take off, land or be airborne.

The ban was imposed to satisfy Israel's ultra-Orthodox political parties and secure their support on other matters. But in an industry where efficient use of aircraft and crews is essential, it has crippled El Al's ability to compete effectively.

It also makes life complicated for travellers. For example, the Friday morning flight from Tel Aviv to Stansted departs at 5am, in order for the aircraft to be back in Israel by 4.25pm, allowing some leeway in case of delays before sunset on Friday. This pattern is repeated across the airline's network. Analysts have estimated that the ban on Sabbath flights costs El Al between £20m and £50m each year.

El Al was established in the same year that Israel gained independence, 1948, with the Israeli government holding an 80 per cent share. But the airline is on the verge of being privatised. Knafaim-Arkia Holdings, the parent company of El Al's main Israeli competitor, Arkia, is to become the majority shareholder of the airline.

With El Al in private hands, the airline will no longer be bound by the prohibition. A spokesman for El Al said that no decisions had yet been made to reintroduce Sabbath flights. But if the new owners decide to remove the restriction, British travellers could benefit with increased flights and lower fares. El Al currently flies from Heathrow and Stansted to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, with winter services to Eilat on Israel's Red Sea coast.

El Al: 020-7957 4100; www.elal.co.il

* The Foreign Office has stopped short of warning against holiday travel to Israel, but its advice for visitors to the main tourist destination, Jerusalem, is strongly worded: "There have been frequent major terrorist attacks in a variety of locations around the city. These incidents have also been in areas frequented by tourists. Foreign nationals have not been targeted, but many have been killed and injured."

The Foreign Office advises travellers "to maintain a high level of vigilance when travelling anywhere in Jerusalem". It also warns visitors to "take extra care at crossing points between Israel and Jordan".

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before