Over 99% Decrease in Traffic at Ben Gurion Compared to 2019

The empty departure hall at Ben Gurion International Airport, on April 12. (Flash90)

The Central Bureau of Statistics released figures Wednesday on arrivals and departures at Ben Gurion Airport in April, which show the dramatic effect the coronavirus crisis has had on the country’s tourism and the airport industry.

In April 2020, just 2,600 people left Israel through the airport, compared to 691,000 in April 2019. Some 5,800 Israelis returned from abroad, compared to 666,000 last year.

Only 600 foreigners entered the country in April, compared to 428,000 in 2019. Foreign citizens have largely been banned from entering the country amid the pandemic, and even Israelis returning home need to quarantine for two weeks.

Meanwhile, Ofer Lefler, a spokesman for the Airports Authority, told Channel 12 News there’s a “very good chance” that either a government or private lab will soon make available a 45-minute test to enable Israelis to fly overseas with a “medical passport” showing that they are healthy, which will drastically cut the need of two weeks in isolation upon return.

Earlier this week, Austria begun resuming air travel on the basis of these tests in the airport.

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the resumption of domestic flights within weeks, and said Israel was looking to “reconnect to the world” without risking new contagion from overseas coronavirus epicenters.

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