The decision a first since Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt
Israel's El Al airlines is seeking to halt its weekly flight to Cairo for the first time since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
In a letter sent by El Al's CEO Eliezer Shakedi to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Shakedi pointed to heavy security requirements and high operational costs, rendering the service not economically viable. "Operating the flight route to Cairo and maintaining the necessary infrastructure for that requires a large amount of security and operational resources, and heavy economic expenditure which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually."
"Without any commercial justification and in light of the high economic cost of operating this line, El Al cannot continue to bear these heavy expenses, and therefore is intending to stop operating the route to Cairo immediately," added Shakedi.
El Al has been flying the route between Tel Aviv and Cairo for more than three decades, running at least one flight per week. Egyptian sources said that if the decision will come into force the only airline to be operating between Israel and Cairo is Air Sinai, which is also suffering from a sharp decline in the number of travellers. Relations between Israel and its southern neighbor have been tense since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime last year, amid rising concern that the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government will seek to end the peace treaty. Cancelling the flights will be interpreted as a breakdown in the relationship between the two countries.
In light of Israel's strained ties with Egypt's new Islamic President Mohammed Morsi, the foreign ministry fears the flights may never be reinstated. "Any element of normalisation between the two countries that is stopped, simply won't be reinstated," a ministry source noted.