The ultra-modern, $436.5 million new Ramon International Airport will replace the current airport in downtown Eilat, with the first commercial flights expected to take place in spring 2017.
By Ilan Gattegno and Israel Hayom Staff
Construction of the runway has finished and the first test flights are scheduled to take place at the new Ramon International Airport, in the Arava Desert next to Timna 19 kilometers (11.8 miles) north of Eilat, in three weeks’ time. The first commercial flights are expected to begin in the spring of 2017.
The total cost of the new airport is estimated to be around NIS 1.7 billion ($436.5 million). Construction work began in 2013.
The airport will cater for both domestic and international flights and provide an alternative emergency landing site to Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv. It will also replace the smaller airport in downtown Eilat.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who visited the site of the new airport this week, said the closure of the old airport would free up land for development in the heart of the southern resort city and significantly improve the quality of life of Eilat’s residents. He noted that thousands of jobs would be created by the new airport.
The airport is named for Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and Assaf Ramon, Ilan’s son, an Israeli Air Force pilot killed in an F-16 training accident in 2009.
The airport will be able to handle around 2 million passengers annually and the runway will be 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) long.
As part of the construction project, the portion of the Arava Highway between Eilat and Timna has been widened to four lanes, two in each direction. The journey from the city center to the airport will take 10 minutes. In the future, the airport will also be connected to the city by rail
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