Tourism Min. Seeks to Open Ben-Gurion Airport at Night

Proposal aimed at tackling growing tourist traffic; Airport closed during night to reduce noise.

The Ministry of Tourism seeks to reverse the ban on nighttime take-offs from Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, Director General Shaul Tzemach said on Sunday.

For several years, departures from Ben-Gurion Airport have been prohibited between 1:40 and 5:30 A.M, in order to reduce noise.

The new measure will attempt to cope with the growing number of tourists, which is expected to reach a record high this summer.

"Extending Ben-Gurion's working hours is likely to lead to up to a 20 percent increase in passenger traffic, and contribute millions of dollars to Israel's economy," Tzemach said.

He also said that flight prices will drop, and that "airlines that want to operate at night, will have to use quiet aircraft so that the quality of life of people residing near the airport will not be affected."

Ministry of Tourism figures show that over 500,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel in July and August, and over 550,000 during the holidays of October and November.

Tzemach, who is in contact with foreign aviation officials, said that "the growing demand among foreign airlines should be exploited."

Previous proposals to open the airport at night have not been seen in favor by neighboring councils and residents.