The Histadrut national labor union will shut down Ben Gurion Airport for five hours Tuesday morning in a solidarity move with employees of El Al, Arkia and Israir. They shut down the three airlines starting Sunday morning because of their opposition to the “open-skies” agreement, which will not go into effect until next April.
Tuesday’s strike will start at 5 a.m. and end at 10 a.m., a period in which there are fewer flights than in the afternoon. However, it could be the opening shot towards a total shutdown unless the government and airline employees can come to an agreement to alter the agreement that the Cabinet approved Sunday morning.
The employees of El Al, Arkia and Israir are concerned about possible layoffs because the agreement is designed to increase competition and lower air fares.
The government has argued that the agreement will create jobs by increasing tourism, but that will not necessarily help the Israeli airlines.
Management of El Al also is against the agreement, maintaining that it gives foreign airlines an unfair advantage over the national carriers and allows more landings for European airlines while not offering El Al similar opportunities in Europe.