TIMNA, Israel, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Israel opened a new international airport outside its Red Sea resort of Eilat on Monday, hoping to boost winter tourism from Europeans and provide an alternative for times of conflict to its main gateway in Tel Aviv.
Abutting the Jordanian border some 19 km (12 miles) north of Eilat, Ilan and Asaf Ramon Airport cost $500 million and will replace the city’s cramped municipal airport as well as Ovda, an Israeli desert airbase that also accommodates civilian traffic.
Named after an Israeli astronaut lost in the 2003 space shuttle disaster and his eldest son, who died in a 2009 air force accident, the single-runway Ramon is designed for wide-body planes and an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers.
Jordan and Egypt, Red Sea neighbours which both have peace treaties with Israel, may also benefit from transit tourists landing there, Israeli officials say.
“It (Ramon) is going to be a regional airport and if some of our tourists are going to Aqaba and Taba, that´s great,” Chanan Moscowitz, head of Eilat-area airport operations, told Reuters, referring to the Jordan and Egyptian border terminals.