By Zohar Blumenkrantz
El Al Airlines tried to file its annual report for 2000 again yesterday, and again saw its efforts rejected. The Government Companies Authority demands that the carrier amend its statement, as submitted to the airline's board of directors yesterday,
has learned. In other El Al news, the board yesterday resolved to sell six planes and to drop certain routes in order to save costs.
Before the board meeting, representatives of the Government Companies Authority, El Al and the airline's accounting firm met in Jerusalem to discuss disputed aspects of the draft financial reports that show a net loss of $109.4 million for the airline in 2000, as opposed to a profit of $16 million in 1999.
The Government Companies Authority wants the statement be redrafted in more detail, in order to better reflect the dire economic situation of the airline.
For instance, the draft report contains the statement "October 2000 saw the beginning of a series of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians, accompanied by terror strikes in Israeli territory ... As an immediate result, from early October, there was a significant fall-off in incoming tourism, widespread cancellation of bookings that were already in the system and also a drop in outgoing tourism ... These events have a significant influence on the company's revenues and profits. According to assessments at the time of the preparation of the report, the aforementioned events are likely to have an effect on the company's business results in 2001 as well."
The Government Companies Authority demands an explanation of the term "are likely". It also questions whether the slump is already incorporated in the airline's results for the first quarter of 2001.
The authority also wants more details on the airline's claims regarding rising fuel costs, and the sale or grounding of aircraft.
Meanwhile, the board of directors of El Al yesterday approved the sale of six aircraft and the dropping of certain flight routes as part of the airline's recovery program. Among the routes to be dropped are flights to Copenhagen, Manchester and Chicago. However, the board failed to discuss reductions in the airline's workforce or the dismissal of employees.