Controllers Threaten Strike Over Radio Noise

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It sounds like a familiar story but news that Israeli air traffic controllers are threatening to strike has a twist. The controllers aren't looking for more money, longer breaks or better benefits. They say they'll walk off the job if the government of Israel doesn't crack down on all the pirate radio stations operating in the country that are disrupting air traffic communications. "In light of the extent to which broadcast stations are appearing in our 'electronic skies,' an air crash is only a matter of time," the chairmen of the air traffic controllers union and the Israeli Pilots Union wrote in a joint statement to the government. Meanwhile, Israel's national airline is setting up satellite bases in North America to save money and time for flight crews. El Al will set up the bases in Toronto and Los Angeles and station pilots there for up to a month at a time. The bases will reduce the amount of deadheading pilots must do in their normal shift rotations. Despite the expense of setting up the accommodations and ensuring families get time together in North America, El Al told haaretz.com the plan will save the airline money in the long run. The bases will be in operation during the summer, over the holiday season and during Passover 2005.