Terminal Chaos at Ben Gurion Airport

By Shimon B. Lifkin

Travelers waiting to check in at Ben Gurion Airport. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — Ben Gurion Airport looked overwhelmed on Wednesday as long lines of passengers stretched all the way out of the main terminal building in the worst day so far of a summer travel season plagued by cancellations and chaos.

In an attempt to ease the congestion in Terminal 3, the Israel Airports Authority diverted some international flights to Terminal 1, which only seemed to compound the disorder and confusion, according to a report by Channel 12.

The IAA has said the situation is not expected to improve until next year, with travelers advised to arrive four hours ahead of their flights instead of the usual two to three hours.

According to IAA spokesman Ofer Lapler, the situation is the result of increased international flights combined with a shortage of workers, as many airport employees still haven’t returned to work following since the COVID pandemic began. In addition, pilots at El Al have been calling in sick, a symptom of a labor dispute that has been dragging on for months.

There has been a 340 percent increase in passengers and flights at Ben Gurion Airport since March, Lapler said.

Lapler said Sunday the airport was struggling to cope with a shortfall of 1,400 workers and advised passengers to “come with patience” when flying out of the country.

He recommended they bring only carry-on bags, rather than larger pieces of luggage that need to be checked in, to shorten delays.

An airport official told Channel 12, “We’ve been trying to recruit people by offering various benefits.

The official noted, however, that “generally speaking, people aren’t showing too much enthusiasm… most of them aren’t interested in working.”

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