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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Following a visit by investigators from its American counterpart, the Israel Airports Authority announced the allocation Monday of a three-year, NIS 550 million budget for the improvement of safety conditions and security at the country's airports.
Eli Ovadia, chairman of the IAA board, said the board will approve "any amount needed for the improvement of safety, without limit."
The decision follows long-standing complaints from both within and outside Israel about safety conditions at Ben-Gurion Airport, which has witnessed several near-misses in Israeli air space this year and drew complaints last month from the International Federation of Pilots Associations. Safety complaints have centered on pirate-radio broadcasts that have disrupted communications between the airport and commercial flight crews, as well as on the routing of planes taking off and landing at Ben-Gurion.
In its Monday announcement, the IAA said it would implement "all the recommendations" made following a recent visit by representatives of the United States' Federal Aviation Administration, which will issue a report on its study of Israel's airports in three months and propose shorter term solutions for the intervening period. The IAA said it would hire two foreign aviation experts to oversee the implementation of the American recommendations.
In June, the IAA completed the installation of a new radar display at Ben-Gurion Airport but aviation officials still have worried that the airport's safety rating might be lowered by international aviation bodies, damaging the airport's relations with foreign air carriers.
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