A new airport, the first that has been built in Israel specifically for civilian use, covers over 5 km² (1,250 acres) with a 3.6 km long runway and taxiway with 40 aprons which will service domestic and international traffic. The new airport replaces the domestic airport in Eilat and the international airport at Ovdah.
The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport, that services the Red Sea holiday resort of Eilat and the south of Israel, opened earlier this week. (January 21, 2019.) Located 18 kilometers north of Eilat next to the Timna Nature Reserve, approximately a 20 minute car ride with no traffic, the Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport will have a significant impact on the region’s local and international tourism to Israel, Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai Desert. The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport is expected to host 2.25 million passengers per year, with estimated growth capacity of 4.25 million passengers per year.
The Air Control Tower is 50 meters high. The airport apron, also known as a tarmac, allows for 60 slots where the aircraft can park, unload or load, refuel and board. Jetways have not been built to access the aircraft from the terminal. Passengers will board the planes either from walking from the main terminal to the plane or by a bus transfer.
The $473.5m airport was designed by two of the largest architecture firms in Israel – Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects and Planners and Moshe Tzur Architects & Town Planners Ltd. Evident in the design is the wish to include the dramatic natural landscapes of the Negev Desert around the airport, with the inclusion of full windows and lots of natural daylight and a very minimalistic interior with high ceilings and low level furniture with the space being utilized by pavilions that act as dividers. Included in the interior of the terminal are duty free shops and a central open-air cafe with a biological pool and garden.
The winter of 2018/2019 has seen a record-breaking season for flights to Eilat with 15 international air carriers carrying passengers directly to Eilat from 28 cities in 18 countries in Europe. About 350,000 international visitors are expected to land in Ovdah/Ramon over the winter season. (Source: Israel Airports Authority). Nearly 60 weekly flights (up from just four a few years ago) are flying into the South of Israel this winter season, thanks to subsidies provided by the Tourism Ministry of 60 Euro per passenger on direct flights arriving from new destinations with tourism potential. The airport is built to allow access for local, international and trans-Atlantic flights and will operate with domestic flights only in the initial running-in period.
There are Egged bus services that run to and from the airport from Eilat, along with new lines that will service the airport from Beer Sheva and Mitzpe Ramon that will help enable tourists to visit other parts of the south of Israel from the airport.
International flights are expected to move from Ovdah airport to Ramon airport in April 2019. The airport has been named after the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and his son Asaf, an Israel Air Force pilot who died during a training exercise.