El Al, Israeli’s national flag carrier, has been facing tough economic times. The airline faces continual competition from larger regional competitors; rising fuel costs and geo-political issues impacting is business. It is no secret that Israel has few friends in the region, but the airline is a vital economic link for the country.
As the airline industry has grown closer together through the creation of airline alliances, El Al has found itself unsuccessfully looking for a chair during the industry game of musical chairs. While there are many factors as to why El Al is not currently attractive to an alliance, the reason El Al’s CEO, Eliezer Shkedi, stated to Israel’s Knesset Economic Affairs Committee today seems to be focused on creating a divide than bridging a path.
Today as Mr. Shkedi addressed the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on economic factors impacting El Al he stated “We are unable to join any alliance because we’re Jews, not due to any economic reason.”
Mr. Shkedi blaming Anti-Semitizam for El Al’s lack of alliance ties negates a number of important factors. Aside from the deep-rooted geo-political issues impacting Israel regionally, overall the airline has no place in the three global airline alliances. Star Alliance has Egyptair, which serves Tel Aviv via its Air Sinai subsidiary; One World has Royal Jordanian, which serves Tel Aviv; Sky Team has Saudi Arabian Airlines joining shortly and is able to serve Tel Aviv through multiple points of entry. El Al geographic position would have it directly competing with airlines from neighboring nations.
Aside from El Al’s inability to fit into an airline alliance, the airline has a small fleet of 40 aircraft and a relatively small route network. Despite the airline’s location in the Middle East, El Al only serves one foreign destination in the region, Cairo.
El Al’s CEO claiming the airline cannot join an alliance because “we’re Jews” … makes for a great show stopping line, but it leaves out many important factors.