El Al cancels Saturday night flights from London for fear of desecrating Shabbat

12 flights nixed in coming months, reportedly under the directive of airline’s new controlling shareholder, who is Orthodox

An El Al plane is seen parked at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
An El Al plane is seen parked at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel’s national carrier El Al is moving to practice stricter adherence to Shabbat, leading it to cancel multiple scheduled flights from London to Tel Aviv in the coming months.

Channel 12 news, which first reported on the matter on Sunday, said the change came under the instructions of El Al’s new Orthodox leadership.

El Al does not fly during the Jewish day of rest, but has long operated a Saturday night flight from the UK after Shabbat ends. However, during Daylight Saving Time the check-in process starts shortly before Shabbat ends in order for the flight to be ready to depart in its designated timeslot.

Now, under new controlling shareholder Kenny Rozenberg, that practice will cease, Channel 12 reported, citing sources within El Al.

This has led the company to cancel 12 flights in the coming months. Passengers who had already booked tickets will be given the option of a refund or a Friday flight.

The company confirmed the flight cancelations, citing Daylight Saving Time and Heathrow scheduling challenges.

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers as a result,” it said.

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