Rina Rozenberg
Rina Rozenberg Kandel

Passengers arriving and departing Israel on private planes or in the first class cabin of commercial flights will be able to bask in luxury in a few weeks while waiting at Ben-Gurion International Airport, when the airport opens its new private lounge.

Built at a cost of 18 million shekels ($5 million) and operated by the Fattal Group hotel chain, the new 1,300-square-meter (14,000 square-foot) lounge at Ben-Gurion’s Terminal 1 will offer free refreshments, waiters and other facilities far from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal.

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Among other amenities, it will offer six private rooms for meetings or private parties and three bedrooms with adjoining showers, designed for executives flying into Israel for a meeting who don’t want to make the trip to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Passengers using the Fattal Private Terminal, as it is called, will also be able to transfer faster to connecting flights and have the privacy of separate and exclusive check-in and security services as well as access to an adjacent, private duty-free shop.

They could even be provided private transportation to their plane. That’s because Fattal expects a good number of the 45,000 to 55,000 people using the terminal every year will arrive on their own aircraft. And the three bedrooms available at the lounge are not just for passengers but also for crews.

The new lounge is opening amid an increase in luxury and business travel to Israel. A total of 19,600 visitors arrived in the country last year by private plane. That is tiny compared to the 22 million who passed through Ben-Gurion in 2018, but the number was up 12% from 2017.

A bedroom in the Fattal Private Terminal.
A bedroom in the Fattal Private Terminal. Credit: Regev Calaf

The lounge, which will replace Ben-Gurion’s Masada Lounge, is open to everyone, but at a cost that runs into hundreds of dollars, so not everyone will be tempted. The base price for an individual customer is $395. The second person in a group pays $250 and the third and fourth $220 each — more than the price of a ticket to many European destinations on a low-cost carrier.

Renting an event room for two hours starts at $475 for the first passenger, $330 for the second and $300 for the third and fourth. Three hours in a bedroom runs to $485 for one person.

“We’re aware of the fact that these are not low-cost services and from the start, we’re directing it at a relatively focused group for whom time is a valuable resource,” explained Shani Shiferman, who is manager of the lounge. Shiferman knows the business well, having managed Ben-Gurion’s Masada Lounge and Dan Lounge.

In addition to passengers coming on private planes, the Fattal lounge is also designed for use by official guests, international delegations and people flying first class on commercial flights.