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UPDATE 1-Chairman of Israeli airline El Al steps down after bailout

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JERUSALEM, May 23 (Reuters) - David Brodet will step down as chairman of cash-strapped El Al Israel Airlines at the end of May after seven months in the job, he said on Sunday, having waited until the Israeli flag carrier received a government bailout package.

The Israeli government this month approved a $210 million bailout package for El Al on condition of steep spending cuts and a cash injection from the airline’s owners.

“During my tenure as chairman, I worked ... to get the company what it needed, to overcome the great crisis El Al has gone through since it was founded,” Brodet wrote in a letter to directors, saying he led the negotiations with the Finance Ministry.

A new chairman has yet to be named.

Brodet considered stepping down after the state approved the bailout but opted to wait until the end of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

He likened his tenure at El Al to doing reserve duty in the military, calling it a duty and saying: “I have set goals for myself, and I am happy to say that they have been achieved.”

Brodet said the state aid would enable El Al to pay its debts to customers and suppliers as well as compensate the 1,900 workers whose jobs are being cut.

El Al posted an $86 million loss in the three months to the end of March, versus a net loss of $140 million a year earlier.

“There is much more to be done to recover from the severe crisis that befell El Al. But I’m sure it now has all the conditions and tools to succeed,” said Brodet, who previously was chairman of Bank Leumi and director-general of the Finance Ministry.

El Al suspended scheduled passenger flights in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus crisis, when Israel closed its borders to most foreign citizens, compounding the company’s financial woes.

Following a rapid vaccination rollout Israel has begun to open up some international routes to its citizens and El Al has resumed flying while small groups or vaccinated foreign tourists were allowed to enter from Sunday.

The Israeli government last week gave permission for Kenny Rozenberg, who recently became an Israeli citizen, to join his son Eli in controlling El Al after buying control last year.

El Al was one of only a handful of carriers flying to and from Israel after many airlines suspended flights during 11 days of Israeli-Hamas fighting.

Reporting by Steven Scheer Editing by David Goodman

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