Israel Airports Authority (IAA) announced that the country’s long-awaited second international airport will be opening on January 22, 2019.
Located near the southern Red Sea resort of Eilat, the new Ramon Airport will replace Ovda airport and will be able to serve as an alternative to Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv during emergencies.
The $500 million Ramon Airport in the Negev desert will start operations gradually, initially with domestic flights and then likely allowing international flights beginning in March, an IAA spokeswoman said.
“Israel didn’t have a second international airport,” she said, referring to the 2014 conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza where missiles targeted Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport, leading some carriers to cancel flights for a few days.
According to IAA, the opening of the airport took a bit longer than planned in order to double the amount of parking spaces to 60 planes and to lengthen the runway to 3.6 km to accommodate large aircraft.
Israel is hoping the new airport will help boost tourism to Eilat. Initially, Ramon will accommodate more than 2 million passengers a year with plans for an expansion to 4.5 million.