Jordan official worried Eilat’s new Ramon Int’l Airport will hurt its tourism

Israel assures Jordan that its concerns that the new Eilat area airport may cause disruptions to its air corridors, due to close proximity to King Hussein Int’l Airport north of Aqaba, pose no safety risks, since Israel will abide by ICAO regulations.

By Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff


A new airport planned by Israel near its border with Jordan is clouding the usually businesslike relationship the two neighbors have built since making peace in 1994.

Due to open next April, Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport at Timna will be 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Jordan’s King Hussein International Airport. They will serve Eilat and Aqaba, the adjacent Israeli and Jordanian resort cities on the Red Sea.

Citing worry the proximity could spell dangerous disruptions to its air corridors, Jordan last year complained to the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization.

Israel said Ramon Airport would abide by ICAO regulations and pose no safety risk. The ICAO later said Israel and Jordan were addressing the matter directly “as one would expect from two countries with a peace treaty and a wide scope of cooperation in many fields.”


“We will propose to them that large planes that can’t land there [King Hussein] will land here. I have no problem with people going to Aqaba from there [Ramon]. They can cross at Arava crossing,” he said, referring to an overland border terminal north of Eilat, a 15-kilometer [9-mile] drive from Ramon.

Peace with Israel was never popular among ordinary Jordanians, many of whom are Palestinian, and Jordanian officials sometimes lament what they see as the sluggish dividends from economic cooperation with their richer neighbor.

One Jordanian official based in the Aqaba area accused Israel of building Ramon airport to “market Petra” — the nearby archaeological wonder in Jordan — for excursions by tourists who would spend the bulk of their vacation in Eilat.


“We are protecting our national tourism industry from any invasion and from selling it illegally,” said the official, who also requested anonymity.

“Now we have imposed on those coming from the [Arava] crossing to either pay 60 dinars ($85) for a one-day [visa] or spend two nights in the kingdom,” with the fee refunded, the official said.

Eilat is currently served by a small municipal airport whose planned demolition will free up real estate within view of the beach.

Named after an Israeli astronaut lost in the 2003 space shuttle disaster and his eldest son, who died in a 2009 air force accident, Ramon is envisaged as an emergency alternative to Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel’s main international gateway. Ben-Gurion was briefly shunned by most foreign carriers due to incoming Palestinian rockets during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.


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