El Al disclosed a $-531 million net loss for 2020 and a drop in revenues of seventy percent, confirming the troubled state the Israeli flag-carrier is in following the Covid-crisis. While Israel currently tops the list of countries that have already vaccinated 5.1 million citizens at least once, in 2020 the country was in lockdown for most of the time and effectively was blocked for air travel.
The financial results reported on March 25 confirmed the dire situation. The net loss is down from $-60 million in 2019 and $-52 million in 2018. Operating revenues reached just $623 million compared to $2.178 billion in 2019. This includes an 84 percent drop in passenger revenues while cargo benefitted from higher yields to produce $132 million in revenues despite lower capacity. Not helpful was a labor dispute in July that grounded flights for weeks. Thousands of staff were sent on furlough.
El Al reduced spending by about $1.0 billion to $800 million, but overall the financial situation is worrying as the Israeli airline is left with the liquidity of just $70 million and debts of over $2 billion. While the government is assisting with $210 million in advance tickets for security personnel and also back 82.5 percent of a $300 million loan, the auditors continue to raise concerns about the financial health of El Al. Its going concern is entirely in the hands of events on which the airline has no control. The plan is to raise new funding while keeping a strict eye on costs.
Since last September, El Al is majority-owned by 28-year-old Eli Rozenberg after placing the only bid on the airline through his Kanfei Nesharim (‘Wings of Eagles’) company for $150 million. According to Tel Aviv Stock Exchange data, on March 24 he owned 40.38 percent of the shares, with 34.06 percent owned by public shareholders, 12.03 percent by Knafaim aviation holding group (previously 38 percent), with the remaining 13.53 percent by the Israeli government. The take-over by Rozenberg has been part of a $400 million state-backed rescue package.
El Al currently has a fleet of 45 aircraft, including sixteen Boeing 737-800s, eight -900ERs, six 777-200s, three 787-8s, and twelve -9s. Some 737-800s have been sold and leased back. As of March 21, the airline operates again to New York, Miami, Los Angeles, London Heathrow, Paris, Seychelles, as well as to Moscow and Kyiv.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.