Principal companies involved:
Groisman Engineering; Mann Shinar Architects and Planner; Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects & Planners; Moshe Tzur Architects & Town Planners Ltd
Nestled on the banks of the Red Sea, Eilat is one of Israel’s best-known tourist resorts, but it has a problem.
The current airport is in a constrained city location and has no room for expansion, and the city itself is also in need of more land onto which to develop.
And with 8,000 new hotel rooms planned in the next eight years – nearly doubling the number to 20,000 – the city on the Red Sea is desperately in need of better connectivity to boost tourism numbers.
So, it is of great relief to the tourism industy that the Israeli government has announced that today’s Eilat Airport is to be replaced by a gateway in Timna, 18 kilometres north of Eilat, within the next five years.
The project was finally given the go-ahead by the Israeli government in 2011, having been put on hold for several years, and tenders for construction of the $450 million aiport were issued last year.
Construction is expected to take place in three stages and will take between three and four years, with work potentially starting later this year in readiness for a 2017 opening.
The airport will be named after Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed in the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003, and his son, Asaf, who was killed in an Israel Air Force training accident in 2009.
The first tender, a $40 million contract, includes the construction of earthworks and infrastructure, the relocation of existing infrastructure, such as water and electric lines, drilling and other preparatory activities.
Ramon International Airport will be capable of handling around two million passengers annually and will boast a 3.5km long runway, state-of-the-art control tower and a spacious terminal designed to accommodate mid-size and widebody aircraft.
In readiness for the airport’s opening, the highway between Eilat and Timna will be widened to four lanes, two in each direction, to allow for increased traffic, and a high speed rail link will also be built.
Eilat’s deputy mayor, Eli Lankri, told Airport World: “From our point of view, this airport is very important for the city. Currently, the nearest major airport is Ovda, 65km away, and of course, this is not convenient. We need an airport close to the city.
“The small airport in Eilat is inside the city, and the city cannot develop because of the airport, and the airport cannot expand either. This is a big problem that the new airport will solve. The main work to construct the airport will begin in the second half of 2013 and they will complete the airport by the end of 2016.”
He continues: “For Eilat, tourism is the only industry. We don’t have any other industry. We are a small city with only 62,000 residents, but every year, we have three million people coming to Eilat – 80% internal and 20% from Europe.
“There are 22 flights direct to Ovda, and we hope that this year, this will increase, and that there will be at least two more flights.
“The new airport will allow for an increase in the number of direct flights to Eilat from Europe, which currently go to Ovda. We believe 100% that this is the reason we need this airport urgently.”
Eilat is located on the Red Sea and has 12,000 hotel rooms and will add another 1,000 rooms every year until 2020.
The Ramon International Airport is expected to spark a 300% increase in tourism to southern Israel with an anticipated 1.5 million travellers arriving on both international and domestic flights each year.
A host of other facilities will be built alongside the airport, including a logistics centre, park-and-ride and a bus station to replace the present central bus station in Eilat.
These facilities are estimated to cost another $100 million.