El Al Israel Airlines (LY, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) has warned it may be forced to cancel as many as 1,000 flights during the course of 2018, particularly during peak travel periods, due to a shortage of security staff paid by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

El Al is responsible for providing security services to all Israeli carriers at airports abroad, although these services are funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The carrier's CEO David Maimon told Globes that the MFA should provide financing for as many as 200 new jobs in the department to help alleviate the shortage.

El Al's cancellations could occur already during the Passover peak at the turn of March and April and would be repeated during the summer peak.

The Israeli flag carrier joins the chorus of other domestic airlines that have raised concerns about the staffing crisis. Israir (6H, Tel Aviv Sde Dov) has already cancelled its planned international flights out of Haifa, while Sun d'Or International Airlines, El Al's leisure subsidiary, has dropped a number of destinations planned to be served out of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion. Arkia Israeli Airlines has also warned it may not be able to operate all its planned scheduled services.

The shortage has persisted for some time and has been aggravated by the funding dispute. Although the government has reached an agreement in principle with the powerful labour union Histadrut regarding salary increases for Israeli security agents working abroad, its implementation has been stalled as the MFA has said it does not have funds to pay for the salary hikes and new hires.

Private carriers had earlier criticised both the MFA and El Al itself, with Arkia CEO Nir Dagan calling for the end of "El Al monopoly on security services".

The crisis does not affect foreign carriers flying to Israel.