An El Al Boeing 777 aircraft at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
(Tribune News Service) - Ben Gurion Airport, which is currently categorized as a medium-sized airport, and was classed as a small airport only five years ago, is now likely to be included among the world's large airports. This category consists of airports with passenger traffic in excess of 25 million. The change in Ben Gurion Airport's category will take effect in 2019 when the number of passengers surpasses 25 million.
According to figures from the Israel Airports Authority, passenger traffic on international flights stopping at Ben Gurion Airport is expected to reach 23 million. The increase in the number of passengers is a result of a rise in the number of airlines operating routes from Israel. This number is now 140, 12 of which began flying to Ben Gurion Airport only in the past year. Airlines are also flying to Ben Gurion Airport from dozens of new locations. For example, 15 airlines are flying from Ben Gurion Airport to destinations in Italy and Greece, 12 airlines to Germany and 10 to France.
In addition to the increased supply, ticket prices are working in the consumers' favor. Beyond the intense competition, oil prices, a substantial element in ticket prices are also working in the passengers' favor. The low shekel-dollar and shekel-euro exchange rates are not only lowering the shekel prices of flights, but also cutting the cost of overseas overnight stays and entertainment.
The significance of being in the large airport category is mostly arbitrary. Airports are rated by different international bodies for the level of service they provide for passengers, according to the passenger traffic in them.
What about the fees paid by the airlines? Will the state, which takes dividends from the Airports Authority's profit, seek to raise the fees? Airlines currently pay $26 per ticket in Terminal 3 and $11 per ticket in Terminal 1.
The level of fees is determined by demand for the airport. It varies from $40 to $70 in large airports, and reaches as much as $100 in airports with strong demand, such as Heathrow Airport in London, which is rated by the airlines as one of the world's most desirable airports.
For the Airports Authority, preparing for an increase in passenger traffic requires investment and development of the space in the airport. These costs, which are estimated at $5 billion, include added check-in counters, independent positions and exit platforms for airliners.