Arkia airplane
Arkia airplaneFlash 90

The first flight from an Israeli airport carrying dozens of passengers living in the Palestinian Authority (PA) will depart from Ramon International Airport Monday for Larnaca in Cyprus. Arkia Airlines will operate the flight.

Contrary to what was initially believed, Turkey is not currently a destination for flights from Ramon Airport. In the future, however, there may be direct flights for PA residents to Turkey, Dubai, and possibly to Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula.

Amir Assi, a specialist in business development in the Arab sector, initiated the project. He said, "This is a pilot project. About 40 residents of Judea and Samaria from the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Hebron will participate. At this stage, only 40 vacationers will participate."

"They will be driven in chartered local buses to the Armistice Line that serves as a temporary border with Israel until the completion of formal peace negotiations. After a security check, they will be transferred to an Israeli bus that will take them to Ramon Airport, a drive of about two and a half hours."

From the details known so far, it appears that, in addition to the Israeli security check at the entrance into Israel, the Palestinian Authority passengers will undergo another one, similar to the routine security checks all passengers must go through at airports around the world. They will then be free to move around the port area until the moment of boarding the plane, enjoying the duty-free shops and the various services that the airport has to offer.

Flights departing from Ramon Airport for the Palestinian Authority public showed high demand from the moment they were announced, but Palestinian Authority officials contacted the passengers and tried, unsuccessfully it appears, to convince them not to participate in the direct flight pilot project.

Ramon Airport was named for Ilan Ramon, an Israeli pilot who participated in the 1981 bombing of the Iraqi Osirak nuclear plant. He was killed in 2003, when the Columbia Space Shuttle exploded upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.