Eilat is Israel's southmost city, located along the shore of the Red Sea and sharing its borders with Egypt and Jordan. The Eilat airport is located at the entrance to the city, and serves as a southern gate for both local and foreign travelers.
Since its foundation in 1949 to this day, the Eilat Airport is an important part of the thriving economy of the city and its surroundings. Eilat is considered to be Israel's leading destination for local travelers and the airport is the major gateway for travelers both to and from the city.
Operation Uvda, the concluding campaign in Israel's War of Independence, concluded on March 1949. During the operation, the Negev Brigade took Eilat, the Golani Brigade took the southern Negev desert, and the Alexandroni brigade took Masada and Ein Gedi.
At the end of the operation, Avraham "Bern" Adan, a company commander at the Negev Brigade, had raised the famous Ink Flag in Um Rashrash – known today as Eilat (a photo of the event can be seen in the gallery). To allow aerial connection between Eilat, which was isolated in the south, and central Israel, the air force has built a takeoff and landing course for light aircraft a few month following Operation Uvda. Since then, the Eilat Airport operates both local and international flights.
In 2013, the Israel Airport Authority has started the construction of new Israeli airport – The Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport in Timna. The Ramon Airport is located about 20 kilometers north of Eilat, and when completed, it will absorb the aerial activities of both the Eilat and Ovda airports.
The Eilat airport serves the population of southern Israel and the thriving tourism to the area in both local and international flights.
History – The Eilat and Uvda Airports
1949 – the 1,000-meter runway is prepared at the Eilat Airport by the Israeli Air Force.
20.02.1950 – the airline which connects the Lod Airport and Eilat is officially opened. Eilat
experiences a period of rapid development. Several companies begin regular flights to the
city, including "Aviron", "Eilata" and "Arkia" in "Dakota", "Nord", "Herald" and "Viscount".
Later, an airline from Haifa has also opened.
1964 – the runway is extended to 1,500 meters, and a small terminal is built.
1965 – the new control tower is opened in the airport.
1969 – the runway is extended to its current length – 1,900 meters.
1974 – jet planes flights to Eilat by the Danish airline "Sterling" begin.
1982 – following the peace accords with Egypt and the transfer of the Etzion airport to Egypt,
international flights are directed to the Uvda airport. A civilian terminal is built.
1985 – the Israeli government and the Eilat municipality agree on turning the city into a
tourist destination which relies on visitors as its main economic drive. In the same year, work
on strengthening the 03/21 runway in Eilat's airport and the addition of 7.5 meter asphalt
strip on the edges of the runway (the runway is 30 meters wide with 15 meter edges).
2001 – Arkia begins operating B757/300 planes on the Ben Gurion-Eilat-Ben Gurion line.
2007 – Israeair begins operating A320 planes on the Ben Gurion-Eilat-Ben Gurion line.
2008 – Arkia begins operating E-195 planes on the Ben Gurion-Eilat-Ben Gurion line.
01.01.2010 – Express flights begin on the Ben Gurion-Eilat-Ben Gurion line.
09.05.2010 – In accordance with the Civilian Flight Authoriry's decision, the Ovda airport
ceases functioning as an alternate airport to Ben Gurion.
01.08.2010 – El-Al opens flights at the Ben Gurion-Eilat-Ben Gurion line in B737 planes (the
Ministry of Transportation approves 430 seats in each direction each day for a period of half
a year, after which the decision is up for reexamination).
15.03.2011 – supervision of the Eilat and Uvda airports is transferred to the Office of Border
Terminals and Domestic Airports.
17.11.2013 – El-Al ceases its domestic flights to Eilat.
2014 – Arkia starts operating E-190 planes at the Ben Gurion/Dov Hoz-Eilat-Ben Gurion/Dov