The cabinet on Sunday approved the construction of a new international airport
, 30 kilometers north of Eilat, to replace the city’s current
The decision, which followed a meeting last week between Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Eilat’s mayor, Meir Yitzhak-Halevy, during which
a ministerial team was set up to study ways of developing the southern city, was
presented in the cabinet as a way to promote Eilat’s economic progress by
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According to the plan,
the Airports Authority will finance the construction of the airport and will
operate it. The cost of the project is estimated at approximately NIS 1.6
billion, with construction expected to take three years. An estimated 1.5
million passengers are forecasted to use the airport each year, approximately 90
percent of the passengers on domestic flights.
Netanyahu said the
decision was part of a comprehensive plan to develop the city.
airport, which the government recommends be named after Ilan and Assaf Ramon,
will be an alternative to Ben-Gurion Airport and the airport in Eilat. It will
free up considerable land in Eilat, provide a solution for the expansion of
Eilat and prevent noise and other pollution in the city,” he said.
other words, this is a very important decision. It is part of the steps we are
taking to change Eilat and the Negev, including laying a railway to Eilat and
widening the Aravah road. We are also checking on the possibility of moving the
Eilat port,” Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
But Vice Premier
and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, responsible for development of
the Negev and Galilee, said during the meeting that the country’s additional
international airport should be built at the site of the current air force base
in Nevatim, near Beersheba.
Shalom said that building the next
international airport in the Negev would be an important spur for development of
the South, bringing thousands of new jobs and tourism, while also relieving the
pressure on Ben-Gurion Airport.
Shalom said the building of an additional
airport at Timna was important, but was not an alternative to
He also said it was important to ensure the construction of
the airport won’t make flights to Eilat more expensive, something that might
encourage people to drive – rather than fly – to the city.