Tourism to Israel is set to break a record in August, with the increased traffic also boosting profits at Israeli-flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines, which has signed a deal with the U.S. Export-Import Bank to finance six new Boeing 737 aircraft needed to meet the rising demand of tourists who want to visit Israel, Globes reported on Thursday.
More than 70,000 passengers passed through Ben Gurion International Airport on Friday, August 9, 2013, an all-time high in passenger flow, Globes said. The passenger traffic record is expected to be broken again on Thursday, with Ben Gurion now on track to record the highest monthly passenger traffic numbers in its history for the current month of August.
On Thursday, El Al reported a net profit of $3.7 million for the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $6.1 million for the corresponding quarter of 2012. Revenue rose to $529.7 million in the period, up from $516.8 million a year earlier. Operating profit rose to $7 million (1.3% of turnover) compared to $2.4 million (0.5% of turnover) in the second quarter of last year, while cash flow from operations rose to $47.8 million, up from $14.1 million in 2012.
In addition to the stronger operating performance, part of the airline’s profits were from a net gain from hedges on the shekel-dollar exchange rate and a rebate from the government, which increased its share of El Al’s security expense, to now cover 97.5% of the cost of keeping the airline safe from terror threats.
On Wednesday, El Al announced a financing deal, backed by guarantees from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to the tune of $190 million, to allow the airline to purchase six new Boeing 737-900ER passenger planes. The first plane is due to arrive in two months.
In Tel Aviv, El Al shares closed 2.83% per cent higher at 54.50 NIS.