El Al has been at the negotiating table for months with their labor unions to extract concessions that would allow for the airline to be bailed out and survive the coronavirus era. Discussions have been highly contentious and pictures have circulated of negotiating rooms with the furniture overturned.
One major point of contention is that the airline’s 30 737 pilots have been out of work for months and wanted to be transferred to 787s. Of course a transition like that would require expensive training and isn’t something any airline would want to undertake during times like these.
El Al has been operating cargo flights and select passenger routes based on demand, but they are calling their pilots bluff by completely suspending operations. Planes have been ordered back to Tel Aviv without completing ongoing flights and the remaining 110 787 pilots will placed on unpaid leave as a result.
In the meantime, passengers have been stuck in the middle. While Delta and United have been giving refunds for cancelled flights, El Al has only been giving refunds to select US passengers filing DOT complaints.
I can’t imagine buying an El Al ticket at this point in time. They may as well offer a donation receipt instead of a ticket in return!