And You Thought U.S. Airlines Had It Tough

With airlines facing endless fare wars and increasingly cutthroat competition, executives at almost any carrier will tell you these are hard times for the industry. But from El Al's perspective, those airlines don't know from difficulties. The Israeli government won't let its flag-carrier fly on the Sabbath or on Jewish holidays--which knocks out 16% of all flying hours and cuts potential profits by nearly 50%. Arab countries, except Egypt, won't let El Al fly over their airspace, and other airlines, fearing Arab reprisal, are reluctant to strike marketing accords with El Al. Plus, with the threat of terrorism, ensuring security costs the carrier a pretty penny. What's an airline to do?

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