Succumbing to pressure to cut the sky-high cost of food and beverages at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Israel Airports Authority said Monday it had installed vending machines with low-cost drinks and sandwiches as an alternative to the 27 restaurants and cafes operating in its terminals.
Moreover, the Airports Authority said it would not renew food concessions at the airport and instead invite new bidders who commit to offering basic goods, including coffee, bottled water, croissants and sandwiches, at prices to be set by the authority.
As we have said more than once in the past, the IAA responds to the needs and feelings of the public. Management investigated the matter and made decisions, some of which are being put into practice now and some in coming days, the authority said.
The vending machines in Terminal 3, the main international terminal, will sell coffee for 7 shekels ($2) and tea for 6.50 shekels, the IAA said, with more machines due to be set up shortly that will sell sandwiches at reduced prices.
In addition, passengers using Terminal 1, which serves low-cost carriers, will be able to buy a meal for 22 shekels they can take on their flight, it said.
Long a subject of quiet griping by passengers, the high prices for food and drinks at Ben-Gurion became a more public issue in November after Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy was forced to pay NIS 12 at Eilat Airport for a small soda. The 13 Ben-Gurion concessionaires have defended the prices, which for a cup of coffee can range as high as 18 shekels, by saying that their operating costs are higher. The IAA awards concessions principally on the basis of how much a concessionaire is prepared to pay for a location.
MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid), who chairs the Knesset Public Petitions Committee, which held hearings on the matter last month, said she welcomed the move but called on the Airports Authority not to wait to issue new tenders for food concessions and instead work with the existing vendors to arrange for a set of basic items at reduced prices.
The Israel Airports Authority had been exploiting the fact that the traveling public is a captive audience that cannot leave the airport, she said.