Ben-Gurion’s Terminal 1 to Reopen, But Low-Cost Flight Prices Soar

By Aryeh Stern

View of Terminal 1, at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Ben Gurion Airport’s Terminal 1, closed for over seven months due to the war and a significant drop in passenger traffic, will reopen for domestic flights on May 27, next Monday, and for international flights several days later, on June 2.

Airlines expected to operate from Terminal 1 include El Al, Arkia, Israir, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Transavia, and Georgian Airways. Approximately 1,200 flights, with about 200,000 passengers, are expected to depart from Terminal 1 each month.

Low-cost airlines canceled flights to Israel at the onset of the Gaza war. Ryanair halted flights unexpectedly in February, less than two weeks after resuming them, citing Terminal 1’s closure. The airport fee at Terminal 1 for low-cost and domestic flights is $11 per passenger, compared to $27 at Terminal 3, making it less profitable for airlines to operate from Terminal 3.

With the reopening of Terminal 1, Ryanair is set to resume flights from Israel to several destinations, benefiting from lower airport fees. However, passengers will face significantly higher ticket prices compared to last June, before the war. A Yediot survey reveals that ticket prices on Ryanair and Wizz Air have surged by hundreds of percent compared to last year, partly due to fewer foreign airlines flying to Israel, making prices comparable to those of regular-priced airlines.

Shirley Cohen Orkaby, vice president at Eshet Tours Group, told Yediot that Ryanair’s return could help stabilize ticket prices. “The reopening of Terminal 1 and Ryanair’s return to Ben Gurion Airport is excellent news for Israeli aviation, which will lead to increased passenger traffic this summer,” she said.

“However, it’s important to remember that Ryanair has previously postponed its return at the last minute, and it could happen again. If Ryanair does return, it could encourage more airlines to fly to Israel, potentially reducing or stabilizing prices, especially with regular airlines.”

She added, “The low-cost prices we used to know are gone. There is a gap of hundreds of percent in prices compared to previous years. Until at least the end of 2024, with the low supply of flights, the era of plane tickets for tens of dollars is over. For instance, Ryanair flights to Cyprus now cost between 100 to 200 euros, compared to a few tens of euros in previous years.”

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