March 4, 2020 / 2:20 PM / in 25 days

Israel's El Al to lay off 1,000 employees, cut salaries of others

FILE PHOTO: The first of Israel's El Al Airlines order of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets lands at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s flag carrier El Al (ELAL.TA) said it was laying off 1,000 of its 6,000 employees and cutting the salaries of its top management as it struggles to cope with the impact of the global coronavirus outbreak.

The airline has also asked its unions to reduce by 20% the salaries of its highest paid senior workers. It said there is a hiring freeze and will cancel all non-essential expenditure.

Israel’s government has enacted some of the strictest policies regarding world travel, barring entrance to visitors from coronavirus hotspots and forcing many Israelis who returned from abroad into quarantine at home.

As a result, El Al has suspended or cut back on many of its flights to Asia and Europe since the outbreak and has warned that revenue has taken a hit.

The country’s main labor federation has already asked the government to intervene with aid and the government has said it examining ways to help.

“I am determined to do everything to ensure the future of the company and will act with courage, transparency and fairness,” CEO Gonen Usishkin said in a statement.

He said El Al’s efficiency steps were “painful,” but were “meant to allow the company to overcome the crisis and come out stronger.”

The government’s steps along with the Health Ministry’s call to the public to consider not traveling abroad have led to the “cancellation of flights in an unprecedented amount and a dramatic decline in reservations”, the CEO said in a letter to employees.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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