The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) saw the opening ceremony of Ramon International Airport, also known as Timna Airport, today (21 January 2019).
The new airport, which is just outside the southern Red Sea resort, comes with hopes to boost winter tourism from Europe and provide an alternative for times of conflict to its main gateway in Tel Aviv.
Located about six-miles north of Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat, Ramon Airport replaces Eilat Airport in the city center. Eilat has been operating domestic flights from Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ovda Airport which is 40 minutes north, handling low-cost and charter flights from Europe during the winter season.
Ramon has full facilities to cope with large-volume airport operations. It is set to take care of all domestic traffic to Eilat, and the growing number of international low-cost flights from Europe, including airlines such a Ryanair and Wizz, who began flying to Ovda Airport in the 2015-2016 winter season.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Intelligence and Transportation Minister, Israel Katz, officially opened the airport, which is named named after Ilan Ramon—Israel’s first-ever astronaut who died in the 2003 Columbia Disaster, and his son Asaf Ramon, who was killed a few years later in an aircraft accident.
According to Tourist Israel, Ramon is designed to take any planes re-routed from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv—a lesson from the 2014 Gaza war, when foreign carriers halted flights because of Palestinian rocket fire. Israel worries that Ben Gurion could be also targeted by Lebanese Hezbollah rocketeers.
Ramon is 124 miles from Gaza and 230 miles from Lebanon. The airport is at a safe distance from Islamist insurgents in the Egyptian Sinai and has a security fence in place as a precaution against shoulder-fired missile attacks coming from Jordan.
The terminal has been designed by leading Israeli architecture companies, Mann Shinar Architects and Moshe Zur Architects, and it expects to see two-million passengers a year.
Photo credit: Tourist Israel