Text size

The Ovda Airport in the Negev can't serve its primary function, to replace Ben Gurion International Airport, in the evnt of emergency because its fire safety rating is too low.

Large passenger planes such as Boeing 747s or 777s are banned from landing at Ovda because of the inadequate safety rating. Boeing Jumbo 747s, for instance, require a rating of 9, which refers to the number of fire trucks available to provide emergency service in the event of a fire-related accident. Ovda's rating is just 7.

Ovda saw traffic of 74 departures and arrivals during Passover, compared to Ben Gurion's 2,856. A serious accident at Ben Gurion Airport could shut down the airport for hours.

The airport could also be shut down in the event of rocket fire targeting it, for instance, or even just bad weather. In such circumstances, traffic is meant to be redirected to Ovda.

But Ovda's poor fire safety rating means that air traffic in Israel would in fact come to a near standstill.