Katz Bows to The Histadrut Over ´Open Skies´ (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gavriel Queenann 02/27/12)
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Just hours after the Histadrut threatened labor disruptions and
downtime for Israel´s civil air carriers, Transportation Minister
Israel Katz announced he has yet to sign the controversial "open
skies" agreement with European countries that provoked the threat.
Instead, Katz said the "soundness of the companies" would be
evaluated before a decision was taken over whether to sign the
At a meeting with Israeli airlines managers, Katz said that he wants
the companiesí financials and economic projections so he can examine
the feasibility of signing an open skies agreement without affecting
the fiscal soundness the Israeli companies.
"As Minister of Transportation, I have a responsibility to ensure the
soundness of Israel´s airlines," Katz said. "I made a decision to
approve regular flights to Eilat for the Arkia and Israir companies,
and I intend to drive the issue of open skies."
Civil Aviation Authority director Giora Rom also attended the
meeting, reporting on the progress of negotiations with the EU and
joining Katz in listening to the concerns of Israel´s airlines.
Katz said that before he would agree to sign the "open skies" he
would insist it include internal mechanisms to ensure Israeli
airlines were able to compete on equal terms with European companies.
Chairman of the Histadrut Ofer Eini told Israel´s Hebrew-language
Maariv "the transport minister´s statement encourages us, but we
expect guarantees that he will not sign the ´open skies´ agreement
without ensuring the employees of Israel´s airlines will not be
Eini added, "We consider take the Minister seriously and will hold
him to his promise. He must do everything possible to ensure the
livelihood of our workers secure. To date, no one discussed the
agreement with us."
"In its present form it will allow any European airline to fly to
Israel without restriction, leading to an immediate reduction in our
operations and the market share of Israeli companies," Eini
explained. "The inevitable result is clear - the dismissal of
thousands of Israeli workers."
The Histadrut and Israel´s airline executives say the "open skies"
agreement in its current form would put Israeli companies at a
distinct disadvantage compared to European carriers due to the higher
security costs Israeli companies operate under.
"I am not talking as CEO of El Al, but as an Israeli for whom Israeli
aviation is critical. The open skies agreement must be based on clear
definitions before the new policy is implemented," El Al Israel
Airlines Ltd. CEO Eliezer Shkedi said several weeks ago.
He added, "Open skies should be a careful, cautious, sagacious, and
proportionate move, but what is being presented now is liable to
cause Israeli aviation to crash." (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 02/27/12)
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