As passenger numbers at Ben-Gurion International Airport continue to surge, the Israel Airports Authority will be investing a billion shekels ($281 million) to expand Terminal 3, the main international terminal at the airport.
The expansion will provide 36,000 square meters (388,000 square feet) of additional space in a four-story structure that will also house the airport’s new baggage screening system, which will automatically examine passengers’ checked luggage.
The expansion is projected to include 56 additional check-in counters on one level and another 32 on a lower level. The time frame for building the new facilities is unclear, since various approvals are required for the project. A large temporary tent has been erected to ease congestion at the airport in the interim, and is expected to open next month in advance of the summer travel season. The tent should provide an immediate solution to the projected 14% increase expected on international flights this summer.
An Open Skies agreement between the Israeli government and the European Union, approved by the Israeli cabinet in 2013, eliminated regulatory constraints that governed flights between Israel and Europe, which have grown substantially since – as have passenger numbers. The competition on individual routes has also increased. This summer, 25 destinations will be served from Tel Aviv by three or more airlines, compared to 19 last summer and 13 prior to the signing of the Open Skies agreement.
The passenger growth is expected to result in the airport being reclassified on a global level as one accommodating more than 25 million passengers a year. During peak periods, more than 100,000 passengers pass through the airport per day on more than 630 arriving or departing flights.
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In another aviation-related development, the settlement of a class action lawsuit in Israel against the U.S. carrier Delta Airlines will result in a worldwide change in airline’s reservation cancellation policy for passengers known in the industry as “no-shows” – those who do not show up for a flight on which they hold a reservation.
Until now, if a passenger didn’t show up for one segment of a reservation, Delta’s policy was to cancel all subsequent segments without notifying passengers or obtaining their approval. The suit was filed by a couple who had booked a Delta flight from Tel Aviv to New York with an onward connection to the Dominican Republic. They mistakenly showed up at Ben-Gurion Airport a day late and discovered that their entire reservation had been cancelled, although they were also credited for the cost of their tickets because they were refundable.
The airline replied that its pricing policies are based on the assumption that passengers will fly their entire itinerary. Following mediation, a settlement was reached with a number of provisions: The no-show cancellation policy will remain in place, but the airline will not charge a cancellation or change fee for passengers who show up within 24 hours of their appointed flight time. It will be able to charge passengers for any fare changes on the flights that they end up on.