JERUSALEM, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Transport Minister Merav Michaeli announced on Wednesday that her ministry will advance a plan to establish a complementary international airport in the south of the country.
The plan also includes the expansion of Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, the major airport in the country, and the development of the northern Haifa Airport, which is currently suitable only for short-haul flights of small-sized planes, Michaeli noted in a ministry statement.
A government inspection team has proposed two locations for the potential new southern airport, both in the north of Negev desert and near the city of Beer Sheva, according to the statement.
In 2022, the number of passengers at Ben Gurion Airport is expected to reach 18 million, nearly double the number of the Israeli population, according to an estimate by the Israel Airports Authority.
Israel launched Ramon Airport near the southernmost city of Eilat in January 2021. However, the airport has been mainly used by tourists who visit the Red Sea resort city and the city's residents because of its remote location, thus contributing less to unburdening Ben Gurion Airport.
In October 2021, the Israeli government cancelled a plan to build an international airport in the Jezreel Valley in the north of the country over concerns of severe environmental damage. ■