El Al to help BA travellers

Israeli airline El Al has stepped in to try to help out people travelling to Israel for Pesach as a result of the threatened British Airways cabin crew strike, run by the Unite union.

El Al has decided to run seven extra flights, between London Luton Airport and Tel Aviv between March 22 and March 27.

A British Airways strike is also planned for the following weekend, but BA will not give details of which flights have been cancelled until the beginning of next week.

A spokesman for El Al said on Wednesday: "El Al has answered the call from passengers to get to Israel for the Passover celebrations. The airline has added both extra flights and capacity to meet the demand following strike action by British Airways cabin crew and its cancellation of flights to Tel Aviv."

The spokesman said it was possible that some people would be transferred from BA but that most people would have to buy new tickets "and they are likely to be sold very quickly". A bigger aircraft , a Boeing 777 rather than a 767, will be deployed for El Al's regular Tuesday flight.

Former United Synagogue property director Alan Koch was one of those whose Pesach plans may be ruined by the strike.

Mr Koch, 65, from Kenton, said: "I am booked on a flight on March 28. BA has told me that if the strike continues and the flight is cancelled, they cannot get me out there until the following Thursday. That means I would miss Seder nights with my two sons and three grandchildren.

"The trouble is I may not know anything until next week, when it will be too late to try to find anything else. I would have to make Pesach here when I had no plans to do so. It's not easy because I suffer from multiple sclerosis."

    Last updated: 4:40pm, March 18 2010