More than 72,600 passengers were due to pass through Ben Gurion airport today in the busiest day for air travel in Israel since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic more than two years ago. The record number of passengers passing through Ben Gurion airport was 110,000 in August 2019.
Outbound passengers at Ben Gurion airport today encountered long lines. The airport was busiest between 5am and 8pm as dozens of flights took off for destinations in Europe and the Middle East. The airport was again busy in the evening as vacationers began their Passover getaway after the end of the day's work with a bottleneck of flights due to take for North America towards midnight.
Patience was required with some flights delayed because all the passengers were unable to negotiate the long lines at security on time and many passengers found themselves with no spare time for duty free purchases.
The forecast is that today's record will be broken on April 24 after the Passover vacation when over 73,000 passengers will pass through Ben Gurion airport. April 17 and 18 are also expected to be busy with 69,000 passengers on each day as many Israelis prefer to celebrate the traditional Passover seder at home and then fly out at the start of the intermediary holiday days (Hol Hamoed). 52,000 passengers are expected to pass through the airport tomorrow and 68,000 on Sunday, when the new route to Sharm El-Sheikh in the Sinai will be inaugurated.
Airport to remain congested until November
The congestion and long lines at Ben Gurion airport are expected to remain until at least November. As at airports in North America and Europe there is a shortage of staff while at Ben Gurion airport 45 check in counters have been moved to make way for the PCR testing center for incoming passengers. In addition, many airlines are not allowing passengers to check in online, preferring top personally check that they have the documentation for travel abroad to destinations where negative PCR tests and passenger locator forms are required. Inevitably this is time-consuming procedure.
Ben Gurion Airport director Shmuel Zakai recently told "Globes" that the situation would only improve if more countries relaxed Covid-related entry requirements and airlines put more trust in passengers to have the correct documentation and allowed them to check in online.
The most popular destination for Israelis this Passover is Greece followed by Turkey, which is back on the map for Israeli tourists following an improvement in relations, followed by the UAE, Italy, the US, France and Georgia.
Meanwhile El Al security staff overseas fear that they will not be able to cope with the flood of Israelis returning to the country after the Passover holiday.
Ramon Airport reopens to international flights
Two international flights from Paris landed at Ramon airport near Eilat today - the first two international flights in more than two years.
The Ministry of Tourism announced that it will resume the grant of €60 per passenger for international airlines landing at Ramon airport, even though many on board prefer to vacation in Jordan or the Sinai due to the expensive rates charged by Eilat's hotels.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 14, 2022.
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