Cabinet okays new Eilat airport

Shalom said the building of an additional airport at Timna was important, but was not an alternative to Ben-Gurion.

Eilat 311 (photo credit:
Eilat 311
(photo credit:
The cabinet on Sunday approved the construction of a new international airport at Timna, 30 kilometers north of Eilat, to replace the city’s current airport.
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 freeing up land for tourism, commerce and housing.
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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.
“This 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.
“In 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 Ben-Gurion.
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.