Sde Dov airport
Sde Dov airportMoshe Shai/Flash90

The Sde Dov airport will be closed to air traffic beginning Monday, and the airport will be cleared and demolished on schedule, with no further delays.

The decision was reached after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened a special meeting in his office Sunday afternoon focusing on the planned closure of the Sde Dov airport in northern Tel Aviv.

While an official who took part in the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office Sunday had reported that the government will likely push off the closure of Sde Dov by at least several months, the Prime Minister’s Office later announced that the closure of Sde Dov would not be delayed.

“After thorough examinations of the subject with the Transportation Minister, legal advisors, and experts, the Prime Minister has decided that there is no way to stop the closure of the Sde Dov airport, and any attempt to do so would cost the state billions of shekels and cause serious damage to the state,” the Prime Minister’s Offie said in a statement Sunday evening.

The decision not to alter the schedule for Sde Dov’s demolition means the airport will shut down operations tonight.

After its closure, Sde Dov is slated to be demolished and rezoned as a residential area, alleviating Tel Aviv’s severe housing shortage.

Residents of the southern city of Eilat are planning on protesting the airport’s imminent closure, with a protest convey slated to drive up from the south to Jerusalem Sunday night, demanding Sde Dov be kept operational.

Located on the southern edge of Israel, some 280 kilometers (174 miles) from Tel Aviv and the densely population Gush Dan area in central Israel, Eilat has relied heavily on air travel to attract tourists from inside Israel, while enabling residents of Eilat to easily visit Tel Aviv.

But with the closure of Eilat’s old airport and its replacement with Ramon airport some 20 minutes north of Eilat, locals are concerned that the closure of Sde Dov would make travel times to and from the southern tourist hotspot excessively long, discouraging Israelis from visiting Eilat.

Once Sde Dov is closed, air traffic from central Israel to Eilat will be limited to Ben Gurion International Airport, adding roughly half an hour travel time to and from Tel Aviv.

To compensate Eilat residents for the closure of Sde Dov, the government will promote a plan to invest some 400 million shekels ($112 million) in the southern city. The government will also ensure that the number of flights to Eilat from central Israel will remain unchanged following the closure of Sde Dov.