JERUSALEM, March 19 El Al Israel Airlines
reported a narrower quarterly loss, helped by an
increase in revenue from passengers and cargo.
Israel's flag carrier said on Wednesday it posted a
fourth-quarter net loss of $3.7 million, compared with a $26.1
million loss in the last three months of 2012.
Revenue rose 8 percent to $499 million, as both passenger
and cargo sales gained.
Outgoing Chief Executive Elyezer Shkedy said the airline
will continue to take steps to deal with increasing competition,
including the launch this month of a low-cost operator, UP, and
efficiency measures, such as the retiring of older aircraft.
After reaching an open skies agreement with Europe last
year, Israel's government agreed to increase its share in
covering security costs for Israeli airlines. Shkedy said the
government now covers about 97.5 percent of the expenses.
"This is to allow fair competition," said Shkedy, who is
stepping down after four years.
David Maimon, who has held various positions in the company
over the past nine years, will take over as CEO.
Operating costs for the quarter costs rose 3.2 percent to
$429.7 million. During 2013, jet fuel costs edged up 0.7
El Al's load factor - a measure of seats sold - rose in 2013
to 82.9 percent from 82.5 percent from the previous year, while
its market share at Ben-Gurion International Airport slipped to
32.5 percent from 33.6 percent.
For all of 2013, El Al recorded a profit of $25.4 million
compared with a loss of $18 million in 2012.
El Al is in the process of renewing its fleet and has so far
received the first two of eight narrow-body 737-900s purchased
from Boeing Co last year. Another two 737-900s are
expected to join El Al's fleet before the summer, with the
remaining four slated to arrive by 2016, El Al said.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer)