Ben Gurion International Airport
Ben Gurion International Airport, also known by the airport code TLV, serves as the principle international gateway to the country of Israel as well as the city of Tel Aviv and the region surrounding it. The airport handles the bulk of the foreign flights entering or leaving Israel while domestic flights within the country are handled at another airport near Tel Aviv.
History of the Airport
Originally constructed as an airstrip for Britain’s Royal Air Force, the first landing strips in the area served the air transport aircraft that supplied troops in the region during World War II. The airport was converted to civilian operations shortly after the conflict ended. By 1946, flights from Israel to New York were departing the airport. As Israel became a larger player on the world stage, air traffic to the country grew. Over the years, the international flight traffic forced the domestic carriers to seek other airports. The airport continues to grow and expand in both passenger and flight operations capacity. The airport’s name honors David Ben-Gurion who served as the country’s first prime minister.
The airport operates two terminals all designed to handle international passengers. Terminal 3, the most recently constructed, is the primary terminal structure and handles the majority of the passenger traffic. As constructed, the terminal has a stated capacity of about 10 million people per year. Adding concourses to the terminal could boost passenger capacities to about 16 million people per year. The airport currently sees about 13 million passengers pass through its gates each year.
Terminal 1 operates for a limited number of domestic flights. This terminal does not use Jetways but passengers are transferred by shuttle bus to the aircraft for boarding. The terminal also is used for arrivals of immigration flights, charters, and some budget airlines.
Terminal 2 was demolished to make space for Terminal 3. Terminal 4 is limited to some special state arrivals and other specialized circumstances. In almost all situations, international travelers will use Terminal 3 while domestic travelers within Israel will use Terminal 1.
Ben Gurion Airport Operations
Ben Gurion International Airport utilizes three runways to handle about 100,000 take offs and landings each year. The longest runway is about 3,700 meters or 12,000 feet. The shortest runway is about 1,800 meters or 6,000 feet long. All runways are equipped with lights and instrument landing systems and capable of handling aircraft the size of a Boeing 747 or smaller. Residents of the area prefer aircraft use the longest runway as its flight path produces the least noise over residential areas.
Future plans include adding additional taxiways to help aircraft clear the runway areas and reach the terminal quicker. This will allow more take offs and landings to occur on the preferred or quiet runway increasing the comfort level of residents in the area.
Security is taken very seriously at Ben Gurion International Airport. Members of the Israeli Police Force, Israel Defense Force, and Israel Border Police all have an armed and visible presence at the airport. In addition to the uniformed officers, a number of undercover officers provide intelligence and security within the crowds moving through the airport. The airport takes pride in the fact that terrorists have never been able to hijack an aircraft that has departed from Ben Gurion International Airport.
In addition to the human security element, the airport utilizes video surveillance, x-ray equipment, and numerous other electronic measures to reduce risks of violence to the traveling public.