The Central Region District Court in Lod, close to Israel’s Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, has rejected a request to consolidate lawsuits dating back to 2018 that sought to certify them as a class action suit against El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) and the country’s other airlines, on the grounds that they were collecting an “illegal” security payment from passengers, El Al summarised in a stock exchange filing on September 3.

The lawsuit claimed that in light of an increase in the rate of participation of the State of Israel in El Al’s security expenses, to 97.5%, the airline should no longer have collected the fee at the rate of USD8 per flight segment until 2015 and, in 2015, USD4 per flight. It accused the companies of not adjusting the levy to account for the rate of the state’s participation.

The lawsuit was first filed in March 2018, one against El Al and another against Israir and Arkia Israeli Airlines. An amended claim was later submitted with a request to consolidate the claims into a single class action suit, which sought ILS612 million shekels (USD161 million) from El Al alone.

El Al said in its filing that “on August 31 a judgment was issued rejecting the consolidated approval request” and requiring the applicants to pay the necessary legal expenses. The ruling had determined, the airline said, “that the 'security levy' collected by the company is not a fee, nor is it a 'kind of tax', but rather it is a component of the price of the flight, and no limitations are imposed on its collection.”

Israir said in a separate stock exchange disclosure that the amount that had been claimed against it amounted to around ILS54 million (USD14.2 million), adding that in addition to rejecting the request, the court had added and awarded costs in favour of the carrier amounting to ILS25,000 (USD6,600).

In related news, Israel’s answer to Air Force One, the Wing of Zion, will enter into service in November, according to an article in The Jerusalem Post. Significant sums have controversially been invested in modifying B767-300ER 4X-ISR (msn 30186) for the purpose, but the VIP jet is reportedly now being prepared to carry an Israeli delegation to the United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai (November 30 to December 12).