Six-Month Peak Expected at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday

The empty Terminal 3 departure hall at Ben Gurion Airport on Aug. 17.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Just hours before the entry of the second coronavirus closure this coming Friday, Ben Gurion Airport is expected to return for a few moments to its heydays before the outbreak. The Airports Authority has been preparing for a record day Thursday, when it is estimated that that 30,000 people will leave Israel.

Since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement Sunday night of imposing another closure on Israeli citizens from Friday at 2:00 p.m., a sharp rise in ticket sales has been recorded at all travel agency booking centers. The country where most Israelis prefer to spend their quarantine days instead of at home is in Greece, with flights taking off from Wednesday through Friday to Crete, Rhodes and Athens.

“During the last 48 hours, and especially since last night, we have seen a jump in demand for overseas bookings,” says Gil Stav, manager of Marketing and Sales at Israir. “People have booked flights for a long period of 10 days, two weeks or more. We were able to bolster our flight schedule to the green destinations and added over five new flights departing Wednesday through Friday before the chag. Although no final decision has yet been made regarding the scope of activity at Ben Gurion Airport after Rosh Hashanah, we are seeing an increase in bookings for next week as well.”

“There is a very large demand for Greece mainly and then for Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia. Eilat is closed and the demand for vacations abroad has risen sharply in recent days,” explains a source in the Airports Authority. “People do not want to be closed at home for three weeks.

“Preparing for the current situation, they already had time to take corona tests Monday and Tuesday, in order to arrive ready for the countries to which they are flying for vacation and which require it.”