|Ramon International Airport
נמל התעופה רמון
|Airport type||Under construction|
|Operator||Israel Airports Authority|
|Location||Southern District, Israel|
Eilat Ilan and Assaf Ramon International Airport (Hebrew: נמל התעופה הבינלאומי אילת/אילן ואסף רמון) is an international airport under construction in the Timna Valley in southern Israel. It will replace Eilat Airport, handle all civilian flights currently using Ovda Airport, and serve as a diversion airport for Israel's primary airport, Ben Gurion. The airport will be located 18 km (11 mi) north of Eilat, next to Be'er Ora. It will have a 3,600 m (11,800 ft) runway, longer than the runway in Eilat, which will allow large aircraft to land. The airport is due to open in April 2017.
Eilat Airport was established in 1949, when most of what would later be Eilat was empty. As the city developed, much of it was built around the airport. In the 1994 Peace Agreement between Israel and Jordan it was decided that operations would be transferred from Eilat Airport to Aqaba Airport. The original plan was to rename Aqaba Airport as Aqaba–Eilat Peace International Airport. The agreement was never carried out, and an agreement between the two countries in March 1997, stipulated that domestic flights would continue to use Eilat Airport, whilst no further action to move international flights took place.
Removing the Eilat Airport from the city center was considered necessary for further development of Eilat, as it would allow, among other things, the construction of additional hotels close to the shoreline. It would also reduce noise pollution. The project is part of a larger plan to develop the city, which includes mega-projects such as moving the Port of Eilat to a location near the Jordanian border (for which removing the original airport is necessary), the Railway to Eilat, and upgrading the Arava Road.
The airport will be named in memory of the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and his son Assaf Ramon who died six years later when his F-16 fighter jet crashed over the Judea and Samaria Area.
Planning and construction
Construction was authorized on July 24, 2011, before advanced planning had been completed. The project will cost NIS 1.95 billion and will be funded partly by real estate revenue from selling the Eilat Airport's land. The planning budget, approved on May 6, 2010, is NIS 56 million. There was a plan to make the airport a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project, but the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) objected, and the government authorized it to plan and oversee the project. Despite this, it is estimated that if the IAA takes on the funding completely on its own, it will go bankrupt and default on its debts. Danya Cebus will build the passenger terminal. The terminal is set to feature a duty-free shop, a feature which was not present in Eilat Airport.
In May 2013, the cornerstone was laid in a ceremony attended by government officials and members of the Ramon family. Construction began two weeks later.
The airport will be located 18 km (11 mi) north of Eilat. Aside from Highway 90, it may also someday be reachable from the center of the country and Eilat via a proposed high-speed rail line and a light rail line that will connect it to the city. A bus terminal and a park and ride facility will be built next to the airport at a cost NIS 400 million. The bus terminal will replace the Eilat Central Bus Station. When the airport opens in 2017, the new bus station will not be completed, and shuttle services will be available for passengers to connect from the airport to the city of Eilat. All in all, the airport will be able to handle 2 million passengers a year.
The airport will feature a 3,600 m (11,800 ft) runway and will have eight parking spots for large airplanes and nine for turboprop airplanes. An early estimate put the land area of the airport at 5,500 dunams (5.5 km2), and the terminal at 50,000 m2 (540,000 sq ft). Despite being suitable for all plane sizes, the downtown Eilat Airport may remain open as a civilian airport, and may still serve as a backup to Ben Gurion Airport after Ramon Airport opens.
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Media related to Ramon Airport at Wikimedia Commons