“We hope that the state will act upon its declarations that it intends to assist the airlines in the face of the new restrictions,” Avi Edri, chairman of the Histadrut’s Transportation Workers’ Union, told Davar, following the implementation of new quarantine guidelines for returnees from abroad and tourists. These new restrictions came in light of the recent outbreak of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

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Avi Edri, Chairman of the Transport Workers’ Union. (Photo: Kobi Wolf)

“The state has already announced that this is its intention, but for now, it has just given a general declaration and not a clear outline. Along with this, the Finance Ministry is once again trying to minimize the statements and commitments,” he continued. “I’m talking to airlines that are receiving calls and cancellations at a dizzying pace.”

“Alongside aid, airlines need to see that there is hope and a future for them here as well,” said Edri. According to him, workers have already understood that there is a wide gap between the state's declarations of intent to compensate and assist, and the actual implementation of its declarations and the receiving of assistance.

“It always takes the state a long time to actually transfer the funds, with time being a significant parameter for companies that are bleeding money,” said Edri.

“We have been in the corona crisis for two years now, and at the beginning of every wave, the aviation industry is the first to be hit,” he went on. “This is no longer a new event and there is nothing to be surprised about. It is time for the state to formulate a clear and permanent outline of assistance and to generate contingency plans even before the start of the wave and restrictions. These things need to be decided upon in advance.”

Arkia planes at Ben Gurion Airport. (Photo: Moshe Shai / Flash90)

Just over a week ago, the state presented an outline of assistance to Israeli airlines following the damages caused to them by the spread of the Delta strain in Israel and around the world. This outline is still conditional on the inflow of funds from the company owners, but Edri  seems optimistic.

“We believe that this assistance is likely to be implemented,” he said. “Workers have already paid their dues – with very painful downsizing in order to allow companies to recover. The owners understand this and I hope this issue will be resolved in the near future.”

At the same time, he clarified that the assistance provided by the country to deal with the damage of the Delta wave, which erupted in more than 60 countries as early as June this year, does not address the current slowdown in the industry following the outbreak of the Omicron strain.