Mofaz to impose doubling of airport tax

Hike to finance safety improvements; official: Israeli travelers will still be paying less-than-average taxes.

airport biz 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
airport biz 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel's airport tax will be doubled in the next few months to finance safety improvements recommended by the Lapidot Committee, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday. Mofaz was at Ben-Gurion Airport's main Terminal 3 to examine the implementation of the Lapidot Committee's recommendations, which were published in August. The committee's interim report said aviation safety in Israel was severely neglected, and pointed to a poorly functioning Civil Aviation Authority and anachronistic aviation laws. Mofaz said, "2008 will be the year that we put safety in civil aviation back on track. We will close the gaps between this terminal and the third millennium." In addition to the increase in the airport tax, which is currently $13, the Israel Airports Authority will invest NIS 550 million in the project. Transportation Ministry director-general Gideon Siterman told Army Radio in October that the new, higher airport tax would still be among the world's lowest. "[You] need to understand that we're now charging less than all the European airports. We want to improve our service. Today, the tax is $13, and it was last raised in April 1994. If [you] compare it to Heathrow [Airport] in London, British citizens pay about $80 [per person] and Israelis pay $120." Mofaz said airport infrastructure, technology and runways would all be upgraded, and a heavy emphasis would be given to the airport inspection department. Ten million passengers will pass through Ben-Gurion Airport this year, the most ever, Siterman said Monday. The previous record was set in 2000, with 9.3 million passengers. The second intifada began late that year. About 105 regular flights to and from Israel are expected to be added this winter, following the issuing of permits by the Civil Aviation Authority to six foreign airlines. In addition, El Al Israel Airways is expected its flights by 5%, Siterman said.