Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

El Al, Israel’s national airline, spiked prices today in reaction to the cancellation of all foreign flights in or out of Israel.

The airline made headlines earlier Wednesday, saying El Al would provide flights to help thousands of people stranded at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, as well as at airports in the United States and Europe, when foreign airlines cancelled service in or out of Israel.

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The foreign carriers suspended service to and from Israel after a rocket hit a home in Yehud, less than five kilometres from the nearest of Ben Gurion Airport’s runways. Globes Fiancial news website cited a report written by ISSTA Lines (TASE: ISTA), which indicated “vast hikes, of hundreds of dollars, between airfares yesterday, before the wave of cancellations, and this morning.

“For example, an El Al ticket to New York that yesterday cost $1,450, today jumped to $2,220; a difference of $770,” the website said.

Globes also quoted El Al CEO David Maimon, who denied that the airline had taken advantage of the current situation to bilk stranded customers. Maimon said the fundamentals of industry fare-setting were partly responsible for the price hike, and also the fact that many El Al pilots are currently serving in reserve duty with the Israel Air Force. The latter fact means the airline is running at a man

“Naturally, when there is extremely high demand, the cheaper tickets are snatched up, and what is left are the more expensive ones – and this is what happened. The last fare is always the most expensive. We did not change our pricing system, which was set six months ago.”

Some foreign airlines said they would help customers make alternative arrangements, and even to pay for hotels in Israel for the duration of the conflict. But the paper also said that several airlines have refused even this basic service.

Tourism Ministry Assisting Tourists in Israel

Given the situation, Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau instructed Ministry officials to create a situation room headed by Tourism Ministry Director General Amir Halevi, in order to ensure that no tourist will be left without accommodation. Tourism Minister Landau said, “The skies over Israel remain open thanks to the foreign airlines who continue their scheduled flights into the country. We are in close contact with the Federation of Israeli Tourism Organizations in order to provide urgent solutions to people and businesses in the tourism industry. I have instructed ministry personnel to ensure that every tourist in Israel receives a response.”

The Director-General receives constant updates from Israel and overseas and holds regular consultations with tourism industry figures in order to minimize the damage to tourism to Israel. As such, the Director-General briefed ministry employees on the current situation and instructed them to provide solutions to all those tourists stranded without accommodation following the cancellation of their flights. Halevi also spoke today with foreign airline representatives, who informed him that they are taking full responsibility for the situation that has developed and they are taking care of those tourists whose flights were canceled. The Tourism Ministry is providing accommodation vouchers for those tourists whose airlines are not providing them with accommodation.

Tourists who experience difficulties as a result of the current situation are invited to contact the offices at Ben Gurion airport, which is manned 24 hours a day: 03 9754260.

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