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Israir jet held in Lisbon over outstanding debt

CEO calls move by Portuguese EuroAtlantic Airways drastic, since dispute over seven-year-old damages is still in courts

Illustrative photo of an Israir plane on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, August 3, 2013 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an Israir plane on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, August 3, 2013 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An Israir plan was impounded in Lisbon Monday over an alleged debt of millions of euros owed by the company to EuroAtlantic Airways, a Portuguese carrier.

Dozens of Israeli passengers of the airline were stranded in Lisbon after their return flight to Tel Aviv was canceled, according to a report on Ynet. A Portuguese news report said that the plane landed in Lisbon at 10:30 a.m. Monday with Israeli passengers and was set to return to Israel the same day.

The president of the Lisbon-based company confirmed that the plane was held in Portugal over a debt Israir owed and was ordered to pay seven years ago.

“Despite the ruling, they didn’t pay, and therefore we impounded the plane,” company chairman Tomaz Metello said. Reports indicated the plane was an A320 aircraft which had landed in Lisbon from Israel.

“It’s a story that started almost eight years ago, when we leased a plane from EuroAtlantic for flights to the United States,” Uri Sirkis, CEO of Israir told Ynet. “After a month we returned the plane to the company for various reasons.”

He said EuroAtlantic took the matter to court and appealed its way to the Portuguese Supreme Court, which ruled in December that Israir must pay damages to the tune of $2 million.

“The legal procedure is ongoing and therefore we were very surprised that Euroatlantic decided to take such a drastic step and detain the plane,” he said.

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