Israeli airlines to strike over ‘open skies’ deal with E.U.


(JTA) – Employees at three Israeli airlines will strike Sunday over the government’s pending agreement to allowi new flights to and from Europe.

Israel’s Histadrut labor union said Thursday that El Al, Arkia and Israir will strike in protest of the government’s intention to approve an open skies agreement with Europe. The Histadrut says the agreement could mean thousands of layoffs, the news site Ynet reported.

The deal would allow European airlines to increase their flights to Israel for five years, which could substantially decrease the costs of airline tickets for Israeli travelers to Europe. A Histadrut spokesperson said this would “force Israeli airline companies to fire tens of thousands of employees.”

The cabinet is set to finalize the agreement Sunday, to the satisfaction of major tourist organizations. Proponents say the agreement would strengthen the Israeli economy and create more jobs. 

The agreement was initially signed by the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority and the European Commission in July 2012, following three years of negotiations.

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