El Al Flight LY002, which was forced to land in Athens on Erev Shabbos due to a considerable delay in taking off, continues to make waves.
Passengers on the flight are suing Israel’s national airline for nearly $2.5 million, as well as demanding a public declaration from the company apologizing for scapegoating the delays on “violence by Chareidi passengers.”
The passengers are demanding a sum of NIS 50,000 ($13,515) for each of the 180 Chareidi passengers who were on the plane, in additional to a refund of the cost of the flight.
In a letter sent by attorneys Amit Hadad and Tamar Pollak, it was alleged that the company booked only 53 hotel rooms in Athens for the 180 stranded passengers, resulting in some people having to sleep on the floor.
Interestingly, only hours after the suit was filed, El Al released a statement admitting that Chareidim were NOT physically violent on the flight, despite rampant media reports to the contrary over the past few days.
Meanwhile, Ephraim Kamisar, one of the leading travel agents in the Chareidi sector and one of the experts on the New York-Tel Aviv line, told the Ladaat News website that the impact of last week’s events was very strong this week, as bookings for the flight are significantly less than usual.
The report adds that photographs of a computer screen from a travel agent showing the El Al flights taken on Tuesday, 12 Kislev, at noon, reveal that business class on Wednesday is booked solid while in contrast, the Thursday flight is completely open and available.
El Al responded to the reports: “The flights on Wednesday and Thursday are completely booked. Bookings are not diminished … As for the lawsuit – a lawsuit is responded to in court.”
In a letter to staff members, El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin said that the complex decision-making process surrounding the flight “took place in a dynamic and developing reality that was not entirely controlled by the company,” Channel 10 reported.
Usishkin said the airline “prides itself on being the melting pot of Israeli society” and that he regrets the incident has led to “polarizing discourse and the exchanging of accusations.”
Readers might recall, in July 2018, YWN reported on El Al allowing media reports to scapegoat delays on a flight from JFK to Ben-Gurion on Chareidi passengers refusing to be seated next to a woman.
Only later did El Al issue a statement reading: “The details reported on the subject were inaccurate to say the least. In reality, the delay was not related to the event that was publicized. There was a delay in the move of the plane to the takeoff runway of an hour without any connection to the incident,” referring to earlier reports that chareidi passengers caused the delay after insisting on moving seats away from a woman.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)