Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. have announced on Monday that they will halt all Saturday flights to observe the Sabbath. The announcement comes just four months following the acquisition of the airline by Shalom Haim and Rami Levy via BGI Investments. The flight routes are to and from Eilat via the Ben Gurion International Airport. Instead, they will operate on Saturday nights, when Shabat ends.
Haim told Globes: “We paid dearly, but we expect that Israir will double its value.” When the deal took place, Israir was valued at NIS 180 million.
Haim also said that by stopping Saturday flights. “By personal conviction, I’m a religious Jew who observes the sabbath, and all my businesses are closed on Saturdays. We respect those who observe the sabbath, and this is not a personal whim of mine, it’s the DNA of Judaism.”
Haim is referring to the Biblical commandment against working on the Sabbath as commanded in the Torah:
but the seventh day is a Shabbat of Hashem your God: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. (Exodus 20:10)
“On the business side, we’re at the examination stage. We’ll examine the economic implications of the possibility of reducing activity on Saturdays. We want to reach a situation in which there’s a weekly day of rest for the pilots as well. There are many businesses that don’t operate on Saturdays, and that can include aviation too.”
“The discussion about the sabbath was mainly in the media, as a consequence of the world view of the shareholders, but we haven’t yet gone into this in-depth. We understand trade, but we still don’t understand aviation as much. Within two to three months we’ll be wiser in this respect.”
The decision means that Israir has joined Sun D’Or, El Al subsidiary that has also stopped Saturday flights.
El Al itself doesn’t operate passenger flights on the Sabbath. When it was acquired by Eli Rozenberg, that policy was extended to Sun D’Or.
Previously, Israir operated El Al code-share flights on Shabat, to circumvent the ban. But this will also end. The only Israeli airline left that is flying on Saturdays is Arkia.