June 18, 2020 / 6:08 AM / 19 days ago

Israel's El Al extends commercial flight suspension until July 31

TEL AVIV, June 18 (Reuters) - El Al Israel Airlines extended its suspension of scheduled commercial flights until July 31 and said it would continue to use its aircraft for cargo and occasional passenger flights.

Earlier this month Israel’s flag carrier extended unpaid leave for 5,800 workers until July 31 and said that without state aid it will not be able to resume operations once the country’s borders, shut over the coronavirus crisis, reopen.

While Israel has eased coronavirus restrictions in the past month, incoming passengers are still required to self-isolate and a ban on foreigners entering the country remains in place.

Due to weak demand, El Al halted flights in late March and the suspension has been extended repeatedly.

El Al and controlling shareholder Knafaim Holdings have been in bailout talks with the Finance Ministry, which offered to back $250 million in bank loans but said El Al must issue $150 million in shares. The state said it would buy the shares, giving it a majority in the airline, if no one else did.

Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer

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