New 'Ramon' airport in Timna gets green light
The new Ramon International Airport in Timna will cost an estimated NIS 1.7 billion to build and is scheduled to be operational by 2014.
The cabinet approved the construction of the Ramon International Airport in Timna, 18km north of Eilat which will replace existing airports in Ovda and Eilat, and feature a state-of-the-art light rail that will transport travellers to downtown Eilat. The airport will be named in memory of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and is estimated to cost NIS 1.7 billion to build and construction is expected to take just three years to complete.
The Ramon International Airport in Timna is expected to spark a 300% increase in tourism to southern Israel with an anticipated 1.5m travellers arriving on both international and domestic flights each year.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz originally proposed building the new Ramon International Airport in Timna, which will be connected to Eilat via a new train line. A host of other facilities will be built alongside the airport, including a logistics centre, park-and-ride and a bus station to replace the present central bus station in Eilat. These facilities are estimated to cost a subsequent NIS 400m.
"We are extremely excited about the construction of the new international airport near Eilat," says Haim Gutin, Israel commissioner for Tourism, North and South America, "which will help encourage travel and simplify access to one of Israel's most beautiful and inspiring regions."
Approximately 1.35m travellers passed through Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport in July 2011 – a new all-time high and a 15% increase compared to July 2010.
The ministry said it will complete the planning for the Ramon International Airport in Timna within 12 months – which puts the airport already a year and a half behind schedule.
More to follow...
About Eilat Airport
Eilat Airport sustains peak loads concentrated into Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Thursdays and Sundays, flights are handled in a period of a few hours in the mornings and on Saturdays only the evening hours are used. Often there are days when 10,000 passengers on 120 flights are channelled through the 2,800 m2 terminal, counting as one of the highest peak loads worldwide in this category.
Although the airport is capable of handling Boeing 767 aircraft, for large numbers of these aircraft, significant investment would be needed. Consequentially, the largest aircraft regularly flying to the airport are Boeing 757. The main problem at the airport is the lack of ramp space, with just two parking positions for large aircraft. As a result, El Al operates regular shuttle flights from Ben Gurion International Airport carrying passengers from around the world on 757s, 737s and ATRs.
The small size of the airport is perhaps best illustrated with the fact that a Boeing 757 cannot taxi past another aircraft to parking positions. As a result, controllers are responsible not only for ensuring that valuable space is utilised, but also ensuring that other aircraft are kept circling until larger aircraft are parked. Despite these limitations, the airport successfully handles ten to twenty times more traffic than airports of a comparable size. It is for this reason that plans to relocate the airport are so important in the short-term scale. In 2006, a NIS 5.5 million renovation programme of Eilat Airport's terminal and runway was undertaken, designed to sustain the airport until it is replaced in the near future.
About Ovda International Airport
In 1988 a decision was made that international flights bringing tourists to Eilat would land at Ovda, instead of at Eilat. This allowed the operation of large, wide-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, which cannot operate from Eilat Airport. Since then, most international flights land at Ovda instead of Eilat. The runway at Ovda also allows long range flights to take off for any European destination without the need to refuel.
Today, the airport sees regular scheduled domestic services operated by Israir, Arkia Israel Airlines, and El Al Israel Airlines as well as regular charter services from across Europe. In 2005, the airport had 746 international aircraft movements and 82,479 international passenger movements.
On January 1, 2009, the airport was closed to landing traffic during nighttime until further notice by the Ministry of Transport, due to the deteriorating condition of its runway. As such, there is currently no alternative landing strip in Israel during night time to the Ben Gurion International Airport for large aircraft, that will be forced to fly to Cyprus in case the Ben Gurion runways cannot accept the landing.
Ovda Airport is served by one international carrier and three domestic airlines, serving few destinations in Europe and Israel. The airport is also used as a substitute for the inner Eilat airport in different situations.