El Al is facing an income reduction of $50 million due to the Corona disease and the cessation of flights to the Far East. The situation seems so grave that the Transport Ministry Bezalel Smotrich calls on Israeli taxpayers to once again "save" the national airlines.
El Al is a for-profit company controlled by shareholders listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Profits and losses are part of business life; yes, the Corona crisis is severe for airlines but also for many other businesses.
A slow down in the tourist industry is expected, should taxpayers be the ones also compensating the struggling small businesses, including cab drives, falafel stand, and Airbnb hosts?
Taxpayers are not the insurers of private businesses, they don't collect insurance fees, and they don't share in the profits during the good times.
But when it comes to El Al things start to be too big to be fair!
In 2014, the Open Sky Reforms opened the market to the competition ending the quasi-monopoly of El Al on international routes. The national airline was generously bribed by then Finance Minister Yair Lapid in accepting the reform and received 97% of the public spending on airport security.
El Al isn't a profitable company for years, the Corona disease is just a new excuse to request more subsidies. Lobbying our politicians is the airline's main business, not competing for customers in a fair market. Even Israelis with a soft heart for the national symbol are flying with competitors.
The security budget paid to El Al is growing over time, but only a quarter of Israelis flying on domestic airlines are covered by it. It makes one wonder about the necessity and the logic of an expensive security system that only protects 25% of its citizens.
The government "corporate welfare" already forces 75% of Israelis to pay for an airline they never use, they don't need to pay an extra Corona tax.