An airport planned for Israel\’s southern desert is being billed as a wartime alternative to Tel Aviv, which was briefly shunned by most foreign carriers in July because of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.
The targeting of Israel\’s main Ben Gurion airport was a heavy blow to its tourism industry and to the hi-tech hub\’s aim of proving itself capable of carrying on business-as-usual even amid conflict.
The new airport, named after Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, is due to open in 2016 as part of an accelerated construction plan.
Israel\’s Transportation Ministry has said the seven-week Gaza war underlined the importance of Ramon Airport "as an emergency, full-scale alternate airport and the need to complete its establishment as quickly as possible."
Re-routing planes at short notice is a familiar peacetime process in civil aviation. Yet some experts question whether Israel can manage that seamlessly given that Ben Gurion\’s normal operating volume of up to 90,000 passengers a day is seven times greater than that anticipated for Ramon airport.
Justin Bronk of London\’s Royal United Services Institute noted that Ramon\’s sole runway would be used for takeoff and landing, limiting capacity. Ben Gurion has three runways.