May 6, 2020 / 9:06 AM / a month ago

Israel's El Al extends passenger flight suspension until May 30

TEL AVIV, May 6 (Reuters) - El Al Israel Airlines extended its suspension of scheduled commercial flights until May 30 but would continue to use its aircraft for cargo and occasional passenger flights.

While Israel has started to ease up tight lockdown restrictions, there has been no change in policy requiring incoming passengers to enter quarantine and a prohibition on foreigners entering the country remains, the airline said.

“In light of the low demand for passenger flights, the company has decided to extend the temporary cessation of flights,” it in a regulatory filing in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s flag carrier in late March halted flights due to a drop in demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as concerns for the health of passengers and crew and the need to reduce expenses until the crisis ends.

Flights had been suspended until May 2 and then extended until May 9, although it operates special rescue flights to various destinations and continues cargo flights. About 5,500 of the carrier’s 6,000 workers are on unpaid leave until May 31.

El Al said it will operate special flights from London and Paris over the next week for Israelis looking to return home.

The airline said last month it was in advanced talks with an Israeli bank to receive a loan that will be partly backed by government guarantees. It has said it needs a government loan of $200 million to $300 million to recover from the crisis. (Reporting by Steven Scheer Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

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