History at Israel's new Ramon Airport

First certification flight lands at Ramon Airport.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Yisrael Katz and widow Rona Ramon
Yisrael Katz and widow Rona Ramon
Sivan Perej, Israeli Airports Authority

At 10:00 a.m. Monday morning Arkia Israeli Airlines made history when Flight 883 landed on the new Ramon International Airport's Runway 19.

The new airport, named for pilot and astronaut Ilan and Asaf Ramon, is located in Timna, near Eilat.

Ilan Ramon was an Israeli pilot who participated in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak in 1981 and who was killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry in 2003. His son Assaf was killed in an IAF training accident in 2009.

The Arkia flight was part of a test run attended by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), senior Israel Airports Authority officials, local council heads, and the Ramon family.

The airport is expected to open to the public during the coming winter. It was built according to the highest security standards, and is equipped some of the most advanced technology in the world.

Speaking at the ceremony, Katz said, "There is nothing more symbolic and appropriate to remember these two people, who contributed so much t the State of Israel, than naming an airport after them."

The new airport, which will replace the current Eilat airport, will have room for sixty planes to park, and its new terminal is expected to serve approximately 2 million travelers per year. The airport also includes a 3,320-meter "duty free" shopping center, and a terminal designed to create the illusion of a forest.