El Al planes
El Al airplanes. Photo by Nir Keidar
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The cabinet approved Sunday the construction of a second international airport to be located just north of the southern city of Eilat.

The planned airport in Timna, 18 kilometers north of Eilat, will replace the city's old local airport. The construction is estimated to take three years and to cost NIS 1.7 billion.

The government plans on naming the airport after the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster and his son Asaf Ramon, who died six years later when his F-16 fighter jet crashed over the West Bank.

In a statement issued by the cabinet, the government expects the airport to "promote the economic progress of the city by freeing up land for tourism, commerce and housing."

The airport is part of a comprehensive plan to upgrade Eilat's transportation infrastructure. In addition to the airport, a light rail service and a new central bus station are also to be built in the next few years, in addition to the widening of the main road connecting Eilat to the rest of the country.