El Al Israel Airlines unit Sun d'Or International Airlines (2U, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) has joined its parent in a weekly flight curfew that has been in operation for years during Shabbat, from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset, local media in Israel reported.

Although the flag carrier has never flown on Shabbat, Sun D’Or has regularly conducted charter flights on the strictly observed weekly religious holiday.

Now, however, travel agencies trying to arrange packages that include Friday night or Saturday flights have been told that a policy change has already come into effect, the financial newspaper Globes reported.

Though wholly owned by El Al and using its aircraft, virtual carrier Sun D’Or has operated as an independent unit since 2011, specialising in the marketing of charter flights on a seasonal and ad-hoc basis.

For the Summer 2020 season, for example, it had been planning to operate flights from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion to destinations such as Naples Capodichino, Odesa, Salzburg, and Thessaloniki, but the flights never took place because of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ban on the operation of flights during Shabbat appears to have taken place now that El Al is under the control of Eli Rosenberg, a 27-year-old Orthodox immigrant from the US who acquired a controlling 43% stake in the carrier in September 2020.

El Al’s competitors Arkia Israeli Airlines (IZ, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) and Israir (6H, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) currently show no qualms in flying on Shabbat. However, Arkia could soon have the commercial advantage of being the only Israeli airline to do so, as Shalom Haim and Rami Levy, who control Israir’s new owner BGI Investments, have a history of never conducting business on the holy day.