A measure to remove Eilat’s airport from the middle of town to north of the city will be submitted to the Cabinet next Sunday.
The international airport was built years ago, before Eilat flourished into a universal tourist attraction. The once-quaint appearance of planes occasionally flying low overhead next to tourist stops has become a headache and earache where hotels and malls are nearby.
Its runways are limited, and a new airport at Timna area will allow larger jets to land and take off. The new facility will be named the Ramon Airport, in memory of Israeli fighter-pilot and astronaut Ilan Ramon who was among those killed when the Columbia spacecraft exploded on re-entry over Texas in 2003.
A special ministerial committee, including the ministers of finance, education and Negev development, approved an overall plan for the future development of Eilat, focusing on transportation, education, tourism and culture.
The long-term plan calls for the port of Eilat to be moved and the city's southern coastal strip to be evacuated in order to build additional hotels. The ministers also want to upgrade roads leading into the city and build a railway to Eilat, a move that is bound to draw the ire of environmentalists.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for special attention to the acceleration in construction of the fence along the Egyptian border in order to reduce the number of illegal infiltrators in Israel.
"We want to help Eilat leap forward because it has huge economic and tourism potential,” he said. “We are considering several projects and will act forthwith in order to evaluate them in depth and put them into action.”