A motion for approval of a class action by the Israel Consumer Council was filed in the District Court of Lod against El Al Airlines. In the framework of the request, which was filed by attorneys Avner Cohen and Ido Einat of the Cohen Wilchek & Co. law firm, it was alleged that El Al had continuously caused damages to many consumers when violating the provisions of the Aviation Services Licensing Regulations, causing damage to its customers who were charged in vain for cancellation fees or for illegal conversion of their flight tickets.
According to the motion for approval of the class action, whenever a customer has requested to make a modification in the terms of the flight ticket and was charged with cancellation or modification fees, this charge by El Al was allegedly unlawful and against the provisions of the regulations.
In accordance with the Aviation Services Regulations, it is forbidden to airlines operating regular lines to specify restrictive conditions on the airline tickets they are marketing, unless the head of Civil Aviation Administration of the Ministry of Transport has given its written approval in advance. In the framework of the request, it was emphasized that in an examination conducted with the Ministry of Transport according to the Freedom of Information Law, it was found that no such authorization has ever been granted to El Al.
Accordingly, the motion for approval of a class action was filed on behalf of all El Al customers who have purchased airline tickets up to July 29 2013, and who - for various reasons - did not take advantage of the flight ticket they purchased or alternatively, requested a change in the flight tickets and for this reason, have been charged for cancelation or conversion fees.
This group includes tens of thousands of people who were charged and the amount in the framework of the motion was evaluated in an initial estimate as over 40 million dollars. In the motion for approval of the class action, the Consumer Council claims that the violation of the regulations by El Al creates a harm claim against El Al, due to the heavy damage caused to the public of consumers.
The applicant, the Israel Consumer Council, is a government company and the largest representative consumer organization in Israel, which was established in 1970 in order to protect the consumers in Israel, and since 2008 - also under the Israeli Consumer Council Law. As such, the Council is entitled to take class of action procedures even without presenting a plaintiff with a personal cause. However, the Council has joined to the motion several examples of customers who have turned to the Council for help after they were charged of conversion or cancelation fees as proof of El Al's conduct.
Josh Goldschmidt, CEO of the Consumer Council: "The Council will stand for the rights of consumers who have suffered damage by El Al, as it stands for the rights of many consumers who turn to us on a daily basis and represents them in front of the various companies, large and small, courts and the various regulators.
As the representative consumer organization in the State of Israel, the Council will not hesitate to consider the possibility of filing of class actions wherever necessary and appropriate, and will continue to examine the settlement's request for compromise arrangements, upon the request of the courts, in various class actions in order to ensure that they are worthy and protect the rights of consumers, and thus, prevent further civil wrongs".