In a joint letter to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, El Al Israel Airlines, Arkia Israeli Airlines, and Israir have appealed again for financial and regulatory support, arguing that if the country’s strict regime of travel restrictions persists they are in danger of collapse. The three carriers made a similar appeal in early August.

In the jointly penned letter on September 23, the chief executives of Israel’s scheduled carriers addressed Bennett, the minister of finance, and a series of other politicians and officials blaming ongoing government policies for cratering their businesses and pleading for a rollback of the restrictions, especially as airlines had not been given bailouts on the scale of other sectors of the economy, The Times of Israel reported.

“There are doubts that Israeli aviation companies will be able to survive this crisis without government support,” wrote Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper, El Al CEO Avigal Soreq, and Israir CEO Uri Sirkis, adding that their companies had been operating under “conditions of serious uncertainty” for more than a year.

Now, despite widespread vaccinations within and beyond the borders of Israel, business is still being battered by entry bans on non-citizens or residents, quarantine rules, and a state-led campaign for locals not to make unnecessary flights.

A few days ago, Soreq responded to an offer from the Ministry of Finance of USD50 million in aid, with conditions, by demanding USD100 million in “immediate compensation” for damages it said had been caused by the tough travel restrictions.

In May, the government proposed bailout packages of USD210 million for El Al and USD16 million to Israir in return for 20 years’ worth of tickets for flight security officials at the two carriers. But the offer came with conditions, delaying the deals - in El Al’s case for it to issue USD150 million in new shares and for controlling shareholder Kenny Rosenberg to inject another USD43 million into the company. A similar agreement with Arkia was also delayed as it had an outstanding debt to the state.

In their most recent letter, the three airlines also called for Bennett to stage a meeting with the finance, transport, tourism, and health ministries to discuss “concrete and detailed proposals and necessary steps for the government to take in order to ensure the continued existence of Israeli aviation.” In addition, they asked for a risk management assessment of health regulations at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, including quarantine requirements for arrivals, and for a framework to enable vaccinated tourists to enter the country by taking PCR or antibody tests at the airport, currently only available to Israelis and a small number of visitors.