On eve of its start, plan to let Palestinians use Eilat’s Ramon Airport shelved

Airports Authority announces open-ended postponement of flights to Antalya and Istanbul on 2 Turkish airlines for West Bank Palestinians, who currently have to depart from Jordan

Ramon Airport during the official opening ceremony, January 21, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ramon Airport, January 21, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shortly before its intended start, a plan to let West Bank Palestinians use Israel’s Ramon Airport, located near the southern resort city of Eilat, as a gateway to fly out of the country has been put off for the time being, the Israel Airports Authority said Sunday.

The IAA said in a statement that it would make an announcement when a new date was set for the plan. It offered no details as to why it was paused.

The policy, which would have allowed Palestinians to fly to Turkey without needing to depart from Amman, was first announced earlier this month, amid heavy crowding at the West Bank’s sole crossing with Jordan. However, it was unclear how practical the initiative would be, with Ramon Airport a nearly three-hour drive from the West Bank at its closest point.

Currently, Palestinians wishing to fly abroad need to travel over land to Jordan and board a flight from there, or to secure a hard-to-come-by entry permit into Israel to fly from Ben Gurion Airport.

In its original announcement in early August, the IAA said Turkish companies Pegasus Airlines and AtlasGlobal planned to launch twice-a-week flights for Palestinians out of Ramon airport to Antalya and Istanbul later in the month and in early September. The first flights were reportedly scheduled for August 22.

The announcement was thin on details, including how Palestinians would be able to reach Ramon and whether special permits would be required.

The announcement also did not include any other options for Palestinians other than Turkey, which is a popular tourist destination.

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