The cornerstone of the facility was laid earlier this month in a ceremony attended by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Israel Airports Authority officials, and Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy.
Nestled on the banks of the Red Sea, Eilat is one of Israel’s best-known tourist resorts.
Eilat’s 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.
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.
Eilat Airport is to be replaced by the new gateway, 18 kilometres north of the city.
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 airport were issued last year.
Construction is expected to take place in three stages and will take between three and four years.
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 new gateway 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.
Principal companies involved:
Groisman Engineering; Mann Shinar Architects and Planner; Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects & Planners; Moshe Tzur Architects & Town Planners Ltd