After 21 hours of marathon talks, beginning Saturday night, El Al’s management and pilots’ union reached an agreement on Sunday, ending the months-long labor dispute which caused the cancellation of around 15 flights and led to serious delays for passengers across the globe.
El Al’s management had accused pilots of holding up flights intentionally, in order to pressure the company to meet what it had said were impossible demands to improve working conditions. The pilots’ union has criticized the airline management for making decisions it claimed were unreasonable and harmful to the company’s employees.
The airline management in turn has accused pilots of deliberately extending the flight time between Tel Aviv and New York to over 12 hours so as to be eligible for a bonus.
The agreement negotiated by the Histadrut trade union on Sunday will see pilots stop extending journey times and shortening their stays abroad for long-distance flights.
In exchange, pilots will receive an 8.75 percent pay raise and a pledge that management will no longer charter planes from foreign companies, as they did during the strike. The airline will also partially cover hotel costs and food for its pilots.
Additionally, the airline will create a committee that will meet monthly in order to monitor the implementation of the agreement. Another agreement is expected to be signed in the coming days to address workers’ rights for temporary employees and maintenance staff.
“Throughout these discussions, I have witnessed Israeli passengers who deserve to have a stable national airline that is strong and treats its workers fairly in order to provide proper service for Israeli citizens,” Avi Nisenkorn, secretary general of Histadrut, said in a statement.
“El Al pilots will continue to be available — as they always were and always will be — for the benefit of the passengers and in an effort to advance the goals of this airline.” El Al management said in a statement.
El Al’s sales for the first nine months of the year were $1.578 billion, a level comparable to that of the same period in 2015, while gross earnings decreased slightly in the same period to $322 million from $364 million the previous year, according to the company.