Israel's national airline

El Al

anticipates 54,000 flight cancellations in November as the turmoil in the region drives away tourists. It is reducing its part-time work force and canceling training courses.

According to internal estimates, 25% of the 220,00 passengers scheduled to fly this month will cancel. In October, cancellations shot up to 94,000 out of 346,000 passengers, or 30%.

El Al fired 500 part-timers last month. Rival

Arkia

, whose holding company

Knafaim

trades on the

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

, has also fired many part-time workers, reported

Yedioth Ahronoth

. An Arkia official said if that unless the situation improves, it would have to continue dismissing staff.

El Al officials said full-time workers would not be immune to layoffs.

El Al estimates that it will be hurt more than the foreign air carriers that fly to Israel. The tourism industry is expected to report a 25% decline vs. pre-unrest predictions of 8% growth.

According to figures published yesterday by the

Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce

, dwindling tourism is savaging the car rental industry as well. Moreover, Israelis are doing less touring around the country too, hurting revenues even further.

The federation has asked Transportation and Tourism Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak to think of the car rental sector when assigning compensation for the aviation and tourism industries.

A leading figure in the Israeli car rental business said, ¿The industry receives 60% of its business from airlines and tourism. It is now suffering from the halt of car rental by foreign tourists and the sharp drop of car rentals by Israelis refraining from renting cars for intracountry touring."

In his letter to Lipkin-Shahak, the official proposed that rental car employees be included in retraining programs being offered to laid-off hotel workers.

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