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Israeli airlines end strike over EU deal

Monday - 4/22/2013, 1:37pm  ET

Israeli border police officers stand guard as Israeli airline workers hold signs during a demonstration in front of the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 21, 2013. Israel's Cabinet on Sunday approved a deal to allow more EU flights, hours after the country's airlines went on strike out of concerns that the agreement would cost them jobs and possibly even ruin their companies.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's airlines on Monday ended a two-day strike that stranded thousands of passengers after reaching an agreement with the government over the new "Open Skies" aviation deal with the European Union.

The Finance Ministry said it agreed to address the airlines' concerns over security costs derived from deal. As a result, the airlines announced they would stop their strike, and the powerful Histadrut labor union also said it would drop its plan to halt flights out of Israel's Ben-Gurion international airport Tuesday.

Airline workers launched the strike on Sunday to protest the government's approval of the deal, set to take effect in April 2014. Thousands were stranded at the airport and well as many more who could not return home from overseas.

Proponents say the "Open Skies" deal will lower air fares and boost tourism. Union workers warn it would threaten their jobs, because Israel's small fleets and security costs make it hard to compete.

The Open Skies agreement is meant to reduce restrictions on European carriers for using Israeli airspace, increasing competition. It would expand the number of flights between Israel and Europe and allow Israel to become a layover hub. Now it is a final stop.


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