Four passengers are suing El Al airlines in what could become a class action over security charges.

The passengers submitted their suit at the Tel Aviv District Court, asking for it to be acknowledged as a class action. El Al, they allege, misled passengers by levying a security charge while using the money for other purposes.

The class action is estimated at $32 million.

The plaintiffs claim that from September 11, 2001, the airline began to collect a $16 charge on two-way tickets, ostensibly for security.

But news items have alleged that El Al did not use the money to beef up security. They quoted Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh, who commented that the monies had been collected to help with security costs and deficits ahead of the airline's privatization.

As their personal security had not been improved despite the charge, the passengers claim, the court should order El Al to stop levying the charge permanently, and to return money already taken.

The passengers claim that the suit applies to about 2 million passengers, hence the sum of $32 million.

The court has yet to rule on the petition for acknowledgement of the suit as a class action.