Rotunda at Terminal 3, BG Intl Airport
Rotunda at Terminal 3, BG Intl Airport Israel News Photo: (courtesy of IAA)

Ben Gurion International Airport has been ordered by the Israel Airport Authority (IAA) to “go green” on an environmental protection plan as it works on ways to upgrade the facility.

The airport is undergoing an overhaul as it contends with having to upgrade its facilities in order to regain the trust of the United States Federal Aviation Administration, which issued an initial decision last week to downgrade its standing.

The chairman of the IAA board of directors, Ovadia Eli, instructed airport director-general Kobi Mor to create a plan to make the facility “a leader in environmental protection” while optimizing its aviation infrastructure.

Goals for the “green airport” plan set by the IAA include:

• Reduce water, noise and air pollution (greenhouse gases)

• Treatment of dangerous substances

• Waste recycling

• Conservation of energy

• Alternative energy source use

• Preserve natural resources

• Promote “green construction”

• Maximize and preserve the natural beauty of the area

The airport management was also ordered to provide “targets, timetables and a budget” for the environmental issues listed.

The management’s response was reserved, politely noting that not all goals may be realistic but expressing its willingness to try and meet them. “In accordance with Eli’s decision, Ben Gurion International Airport will continue to operate and supply a high level of service as is the standard at major, modern airports around the world,” said a statement quoted by Haaretz, “while preserving the level of security, assuring safety standards and integrating into the worldwide trend of ‘green airports’ in the hope of achieving the IAA’s targets.”

FAA Decides to Downgrade

The airport came under fire last week from United States Federal Aviation Administration officials for “severe security shortcomings in Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority.” The FAA decided tentatively in its report to downgrade the airport from Category 1 to Category 2. A final decision on the matter was expected sometime this week.

Such a move would place Israel in the same category with only 10 to 20 other airports, including Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Honduras and Bulgaria, among others.

Ben Gurion airport, which has three runways, serves as the hub of El Al, Israir Airlines, Arkia Israel Airlines and Sun d’Or International Airlines.  Terminal 3 is used for international flights, and Terminal 1 is used for domestic, charter and low-cost flights in the summer months. The airport is used by commercial, private and also military aircraft.

The Lapidot Committee, headed by former Israel Air Force commander Amos Lapidot a year ago to investigate security in the Israel Civil Aviation Authority, came back with a report stating that aviation safety in Israel was in a “catastrophic state.”

Responding to the FAA decision to downgrade the airport, the ministry said in a statement, “The Transportation Ministry has taken the report to heart, and Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) would be using the report in order to set guidelines for improvement.

“Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has been working to repair damage accumulated over dozens of years with investments in flight security and central position-holders have been replaced…

“We plan to study the report intensively and restore everything found lacking so that Israel can return to the Category One,” said the ministry.