Israeli aviation infrastructure – urgent need for action

The Israeli government will have to take a break from handling the political situation in the Middle East, and decide soon where to build the complementary international airport of Israel. The current situation is unacceptable. There is no alternate to Ben-Gurion international airport near Tel-Aviv and there are no plans for a second international airport that will be needed when Ben -Gurion will exceed its maximum capacity.

But neither issue is dealt with seriously. The Israeli civil aviation authority (CAA) is beginning to feel that something has to be done quickly.

The Uvda Israeli airforce base near Eilat in Southern Israel used to serve as the alternate for Ben-Gurion , but last year, the Israeli CAA banned its use for lack of some major safety features.

Since this decision has been made, the alternate for Ben-Gurion is Amman in Jordan.

With no domestic alternate to Ben-Gurion and no complementary airport on the horizon, this has turned on some red lights in the CAA. Giora Romm, its director general, told me that when the annual passengers traffic in Ben-Gurion exceed 16 million, a second airport will be needed. In 2010 the airport handled 11.5 million passengers, an increase of 9.3% compared with 2009. If that growth pace continues, the problem will need an even more urgent solution.

The CAA has proposed two options – one in the Nevatim air base in southern Israel or in Megido, in northern Israel. “We think that Megido is a better option because of its location,” Romm said .

The minister of transport prefers the southern option but this conflict of location is at this moment just talk as nothing really happens.

Romm says that a decision has to be made this year. Even if this happens, a long time, a very long time, will pass until the actual project will start to roll. This is the pace of developing aviation infrastructure in Israel, a country that manufactures space launchers, satellites and some of the most advanced air systems in the world. Strange? When politicians run the show this is the result.



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