After 70 Years, the Old Eilat Airport Closed Its Gates Today
Flights to Eilat will now take place at the new Ramon International Airport at Timna, 20 kilometers north of Eilat.
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The airport in Eilat, which opened a year after the establishment of the State of Israel (1950), permanently closed down on March 18, 2019 after 70 years of extensive aviation history. The Arkia plane to Sde Dov in Tel Aviv, which took off at 17:30 from the old airport, was supposed to be the last plane to take off from Eilat. Due to a flight delay, Israir was the final airline operator to "shutter" the old airport.
When the Israir flight took off from the southern city to Tel Aviv at 18:30, the control tower gave this final message: "Israir 444, the control tower and the team of inspectors bids farewell to you and the Eilat airport for the last time. See you soon at the new Eilat-Ramon airport."
With the departure of the last plane, the workers held a farewell ceremony where they folded the Israeli flag and the Airport Authority flag, symbolizing the closing of the field. Hanan Moskowitz, the Eilat airport manager, who will now be assigned to the new Ilan and Asaf Ramon airport in Timna, said: "There are workers who have worked here for many years. Am I excited? It feels like moving to a new house. One feels at the same time that one will never forget the old house."
The new Ilan and Asaf Ramon airport was planned to replace the Eilat and Uvda airports. It was built at Timna, about 19 kilometers north of the city of Eilat, to be an international and domestic airport. The new airport will serve as the southern air gateway of the State of Israel and will serve primarily domestic and international tourism to the city of Eilat and to the country's southern resorts: Mitzpeh Ramon (130 km away) and the Dead Sea (180 km away).
The new airport was built according to the highest standards so it can accommodate all types of passenger planes, including Jumbo aircraft and smaller aircraft.
The passenger terminal at the airport is large, covering an area of 30,000 square meters. It offers services at a high standard to about 1.8 million passengers a year, and contains a variety of commercial areas, eateries and duty-free shops.
On March 19, the Eilat airport was transferred to the Eilat municipality, which will be launching a series of construction projects as well as connecting the two parts of the city which had been divided by the airport.
The airport’s closing led to protests fomented by the Eilat and Tel Aviv mayors the week before. Within the framework of the protest, all the entrances to the cities by air and land were closed and the students’ studies were partially suspended.