Israeli Court to Meet Today in Effort to Head Off Airport Strike

Israel’s National Labor Court will try today to head off a strike that would cripple the country’s airports.

Airport workers have threatened to walk off the job at 5 a.m. tomorrow in solidarity with Israeli airline employees, who began their own strike yesterday to protest the government’s approval of an aviation agreement with the European Union that they say will hurt local carriers.

Labor Court President Nili Arad will meet with union, government, trade and airline officials this evening in an effort to avert the stoppage, according to an e-mailed decision from the court.

The government says the “Open Skies” agreement will increase competition in air travel, resulting in lower fares and more incoming tourism. The airline workers say the accord will destroy the Israeli civil aviation industry by opening them to unfair competition.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said the carriers’ strike was “uncalled for.”

“‘Open Skies’ is a done deal,” Lapid said in an e-mailed statement today. “This is a good agreement for the citizens of Israel, for the Israeli economy, and for tourism.”

At the same time, Israeli airlines have “special difficulties,” mostly due to security concerns, and ministry officials have been instructed to find a solution to help the carriers operate under the new accord, he said.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (ELAL), the country’s flagship carrier, rose 2.5 percent to 0.544 shekel at 1:47 p.m. today, after dropping by more than 13 percent in the two previous trading sessions over the strike.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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