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El Al Airlines was hit hard in the first quarter by the coronavirus crisis

TEL AVIV, July 1 (Reuters) – El Al Israel Airlines reported a loss in the first quarter for a steep drop in revenue and said it had to give up some of its fleet and release most of its strength. her work with unpaid leave to fight coronavirus outbreak.

The Israeli flag carrier is seeking state-backed loans to help it during the crisis, as foreigners are barred from entering the country and incoming Israelis must enter quarantine.

The government argues that airline problems, including an inflated workforce, high wages and a weak balance sheet, began long before pandemics.

El Al said he was still negotiating with the government for a aid package. Two offers are on the table.

The first includes $ 400 million in bank loans, most of which will be guaranteed by the state, and El Al by issuing 150 million shares ($ 43 million) in shares. In the second, the loan amount drops to $ 250 million and the stock issue rises to about $ 150 million with the government committed to buying any stock that is not bought by the public.

Meanwhile, El Al has suspended regular commercial flights until at least the end of July. To make up for it, it has expanded its cargo operations by regaining commercial aircraft.

The company said it lost $ 140 million in the first three months to a loss of $ 55 million a year ago. Revenue fell 25% to $ 321 million.

El Al has renewed its fleet in recent years to compete better with a influx of low-cost foreign carriers, but that has stopped.

It canceled the lease agreements for the two Boeing 737-800 aircraft and returned three more. The company also reached a sales and rental agreement with a foreign company for three 737-800 for $ 76 million.

“The extension of the coronavirus crisis is something we have never seen, and no airline, no matter how strong, can survive without government assistance,” said CEO Gonen Usishkin.

$ 1 = € 3,4613 Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, edited by Louise Heavens

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