Over 4.5 million travelers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion International Airport during July and August, officials said as they prepared for the summer “rush.” Some 1,360 flights are set to take off from the airport each week during those two months, 13 percent more than last summer.
About 63 percent of those flights will take off for European cities, but many of them will be for transfers to flights to other destinations in the U.S. and Asia. Altogether, some 2 million Israelis are expected to travel abroad this summer. Since the “Open Skies” policy was instituted in 2013, there has been a 43-percent growth in the number of Israelis flying abroad; the increase in flights to Europe since that time was 51 percent, while growth on other routes was 32 percent.
April was a banner month for Ben Gurion airport. A total of 1.7 million passengers have so far passed through the airport during the month, 25 percent more than in April 2016. There are now 139 airlines operating in Israel, with ten new ones set to begin serving in the coming months, the Tourism Ministry said, adding that this number was unique among mid-sized airports worldwide.
According to Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, the Open Skies policy has increased the number of flights servicing Israel by 50 percent. Katz said that he is constantly reviewing Israel’s flight agreements with other countries. “This is a strategic aim for us,” Katz said. “The addition of flights is part of the consumer revolution, which has greatly benefited Israelis, thanks to the increasing number of direct flights to many destinations, and especially for the reduction of cost by large percentages thanks to increased competition.”