Ben-Gurion's Terminal 1 ready for domestic travelers
The IAA spent this week conducting tests at the terminal, including checking how the airlines will operate and check-in procedures for passengers.
By AVI KRAWITZ
Terminal 1 at Ben-Gurion Airport will return to work next week when domestic flights start operating from the historic building, the Israel Airports Authority said Wednesday.
"Two years after ending its service [as Israel's international airport], Terminal 1 will open again as the main domestic terminal on Tuesday," the IAA said.
The project was completed on a NIS 14.5 million budget and, according to BG-Airport's general manager, Zev Sarig, was the authority's biggest undertaking since building Terminal-3, which replaced the old terminal as Israel's main international gateway.
"This is an historic building built in the times of the British mandate and we kept the basic structure of the building," Sarig said. "This was a tremendous undertaking."
The IAA spent this week conducting tests at the terminal, including checking how the airlines will operate and check-in procedures for passengers. It hosted around 100 IAA pensioners on Wednesday to go through the full flight check-in procedure.
More than 400,000 passengers on more than 4,600 flights flew inside Israel from Ben-Gurion Airport last year, slightly fewer than in 2005. Sarig said the new terminal can handle much more than that, but didn't commit to a specific figure. The 8,000 square meter terminal can handle passengers from four large plane loads at the same time, compared to two for the old domestic terminal-2.
Terminal-2 will soon be destroyed and a new cargo terminal built in its place.
The refurbished terminal has one downside - there are no direct buses or trains to terminal-1. The IAA will operate a free shuttle between Terminal-3 and -1 every 10 to 15 minutes.
Once there, however, passengers will find a modern, improved terminal for domestic travel.
The terminal has two check-in halls, one each for Israir and Arkia airlines, and space for another operator should one enter the market.
Shmuel Kandel, deputy director-general for planning and engineering at IAA, said the vacation-style design at the departure gates were designed to set the tone for passengers' coming holiday experience. The arrivals hall now has a more urban feel, he said.
While the new-look terminal comes with all the modern conveniences, including wireless Internet, plasma flight schedule screens and a VIP room, it will still be familiar to nostalgic passengers, who may recognize some of the old panels still intact and smaller details such as the old terminal's clock.
Passengers will also make a return to the old runway at terminal-1, as they will be transported by bus from the departure hall to the plane.
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