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El Al has returned multiple planes to lessors after cutting all of its services. The airline is negotiating with its government and unions to accept a state aid package. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

El Al Agrees to Return Pilot Wages as Demand Reaches Highs

Israeli flag carrier El Al has announced it reached an agreement with its pilots to restore salaries to pre-COVID-19 levels in an effort to cancel fewer flights. The airline agreed that such salaries will be in effect by the start of 2023 and would remain until the contract expires in 2025. 

The importance of better wages in the long term

Histadrut, Israel’s largest and most prominent workers union, pushed El Al to bring back the wages saying it was the best chance for the carrier to meet demand. Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David said in a press release, “El Al and the other Israeli airlines are an important strategic asset for the country, and I welcome the fact that we have reached agreements that will allow efficient and continuous operation of the company’s aircraft, along with returning pilots’ salaries to their former state. The aviation industry in general, and El Al in particular, have had two difficult years, and now that demand for flights is at its peak, I am sure the agreement will bring El Al back to growth. I thank Avi Edri, the company’s management, the pilots’ committee and everyone who contributed to the agreement. We will continue to work for the workers in all sectors of the economy.”

El Al, like many of the world’s airlines, is battling a serious shortage while also facing demand that is pushing the carrier to its operating limits. 

The airline had announced in June that it would halt services to Toronto, Warsaw, and Brussels in October but it remains unclear whether the new labor agreement will change things. The win for the pilots union should also prove to benefit El Al down the road as was outlined by Bar-David in his statements. Airlines must recognize the importance of raising wages for pilots and staff at a time when everyone is working under immense pressure with the busy summer season already in full swing.

Carriers like SAS have had fallouts in recent weeks due to disagreements over wages and new pilot hiring and are now facing bankruptcy and an operating schedule that only can only be fulfilled about halfway. 

Airlines see profits while wages remain low

Histadrut also pointed out the fact that many of the world’s airlines are beginning to see their financials recover while continuing to keep wages down. “The pilots of the Israeli airlines, including EL AL pilots, have significantly reduced their salaries in order for the airlines to survive. “Today, after the aviation industry recovers, it is time to restore the status quo and pay tribute to the employees of the Israeli airlines who saved the industry from collapsing,” said the Chairman of the Histadrut’s Transportation Workers’ Union, Avi Edri. Whether or not El Al will decide to resume services it had planned to cancel or expand further remains to be seen but the labor agreement was a clear step in the right direction.


  • Ezra Gollan

    Ezra Gollan is a student, photographer and aviation enthusiast based in New York, New York. He has spent over half a decade around New York City’s airports as a photographer.

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