Photo Credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami / Flash 90
El Al airlines, the national airline of Israel

If you were planning a second honeymoon in Prague or a study excursion to Rome, this week might not be the best time for it.

In fact, if you were planning anything having to do with flying on El Al Airlines, check within a few hours of flight time, to make sure that your flight is actually flying.

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The reason: El Al has once again managed to upset the delicate sensibilities of its pilots, and for the third time in less than a year, the pilots are refusing to fly the planes, this time to protest their retirement pension plan.

It’s still not clear, however, why the pilots’ union felt comfortable putting everyone else in the middle of their dispute, including thousands of strangers whose lives they deliberately complicated.

All flights from Europe to Israel were canceled on Sunday, in addition to three flights departing from Israel to Europe. And a few back and forth from the United States for good measure.

The dispute centers on the wage agreement that scales down the salaries of the pilots to just 34 percent of their full wages from ages 65 to 67. The problem has to do with the fact that international regulations prohibit pilots from flying international routes after age 65. However, Israeli pilots don’t begin to receive a pension until age 67, the nation’s official retirement age.

The “gap years” have been the focus of the ongoing war between the pilots’ union and the management over the past several months.

On Saturday night El Al canceled departing flights to New York, Boston and Moscow, and by Sunday evening, flights to London, Madrid and Warsaw had been added to the list. Flights returning from New York, Boston, Madrid, Warsaw and London also were grounded as well.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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