Hit hard by flight cancellations and a new government policy that will virtually shut down Israel’s incoming tourism industry, Israel’s El Al national airline took drastic action Wednesday by announcing it is placing 80 percent of its 6,300 employees on indefinite unpaid leave, the Globes financial newspaper reported.
The layoffs come in the wake of an emergency government decision this week to stem the spread of the coronavirus by ordering everyone entering the country to go into mandatory two-week home quarantine. Foreigners arriving at the airport will have to prove they have a place to stay while quarantined, or will be put back on a flight out of Israel.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a $2.8 billion aid package to help companies hit hard economically by the corona crisis and bolster the budgets of the health ministry and emergency services.
Financial help for El Al is not expected to be announced until next week after El Al provides financial impact data to the finance ministry, the report said.
Before the new quarantine rules were announced, El Al estimated it would already lose up to $160 million in the first quarter of 2020 due to the global virus crisis.