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Israel opens new Eilat airport for 'times of conflict'

Jan. 22, 2019 12:39 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 5:34 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel opened a new international airport, on Monday, outside the city of Eilat in southern Israel, hoping to boost winter tourism from Europeans and provide an alternative to its main airport in Tel Aviv during “times of conflict.”

The airport is named after Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster, and his son Asaf, who was killed in 2009 in an Air Force accident.

Located 19km north of Eilat, the 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.

The single-runway Ramon is designed for wide-body planes and an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers.

At the airport’s opening ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Planes will come here from the south, from the east and from the north. This is a huge change in Israel's accessibility and its international standing."

Netanyahu added that the airport would be needed "during times of emergency.”

The airport is designed to take any planes re-routed from Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv in “times of conflict.”

However, Israel's neighbor, the Jordanian Kingdom, contends the Ramon International Airport "violates international standards regarding respect for airspace and sovereignty" as it is situated less than a half-mile from the border and roughly 13km from Jordan's Aqaba Airport.

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