Ben-Gurion International Airport’s Terminal 1 has been refurbished and redesigned, to provide facilities predominantly serving international passengers flying out of Israel on low-cost carriers.
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The terminal, which handled all international flights at the airport before Terminal 3 was opened in 2004, reopened for business last Tuesday.
More than 60 million shekels ($16.9 million) was invested in a new baggage screening security system at Terminal 1. Tens of millions of shekels were also spent on remodeling the building, installing appropriate computer infrastructure, baggage-handling equipment, and ground and aviation infrastructure.
The hand-luggage inspection area has been expanded, along with new passport control stands for biometric passports and nine additional aircraft departure gates. The interior of the departure hall is decorated with motifs from an Israeli tree-lined boulevard, similar to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Boulevard.
In the duty-free shopping area, there is a James Richardson store, ALM electronics store, Aroma café, Steimatzky book and gift store, Jack Kuba clothing store and, for the first time at the airport, a Foot Locker sporting apparel retail location.
The Terminal 1 upgrade follows a 27% spike in passenger traffic at Ben-Gurion airport as a whole between 2013 and 2016, the Israel Airports Authority said.
During peak travel days this summer, between 90,000 and 100,000 passengers a day are expected to depart or land at the airport, east of Tel Aviv.
Terminal 1 is expected to handle 1.4 million passengers a year on international flights, in addition to 600,000 on domestic flights (mainly Eilat). For the first time, Ben-Gurion airport is projected to handle more than 20 million passengers, including 19.5 million on international flights.
At last Tuesday’s ceremony, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the terminal’s redevelopment was the direct result of the Open Skies agreement between Israel and the European Union, which came into effect in 2013, deregulating air travel between Israel and Europe and opening the airport up to additional airlines, more destinations and more competition.
At the end of the year, an additional concourse will open in Terminal 3, with eight additional boarding gates. Other plans include the opening of Ramon International Airport at Timna, near Eilat, this winter. The southern airport, which is expected to handle 2 million passengers a year initially, will replace the current airports in the city of Eilat and at Ovda to its north.