© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Israeli flag carrier El Al’s airliner carrying Israeli and U.S. delegates lands at Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. WAM/Handout

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines reached a collective agreement with its pilots to restore their salaries to pre-COVID pandemic levels and end months of labour action that led to cancelled flights.

Under the deal, which is valid through 2025, salaries will return to previous levels by the beginning of 2023, El Al and the Histadrut labour federation said in a joint statement.

Last month, a labour court declined El Al’s demand to force pilots back to work after near daily cancellations, ordering both sides to negotiate a deal. Pilots were seeking El Al to abide by a 2017 salary deal.

“Israeli airline pilots, including El Al pilots, significantly reduced their salaries so the airlines could survive. Today, with the aviation industry recovering, it is time to return to the previous situation,” said Avi Edri, head of the Histadrut’s transportation workers’ union.

El Al in May said it had narrowed its first-quarter loss to $66 million from $86 million a year earlier, after Israel’s borders were reopened to foreign tourists and passenger numbers returning to pre-COVID levels.

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