Older, smaller Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion International Airport to be closed as pandemic chokes off domestic and international charter flights.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The Israel Airports Authority announced Tuesday it will totally close down Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion International Airport due to the massive reduction in air travel from the coronavirus pandemic.
“International charter flights were stopped last week and tomorrow we are closing the terminal because there are almost no domestic flights,” authority spokesman Ofer Lefler said.
Originally built in 1936 as a military airport during the British Mandate period, it served in that capacity during World War II and in 1973 was named for Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.
Strained by the growth of air travel in the 1980s, a much larger modern Terminal was opened in 2004, with the original terminal building eventually being used only for some international charter flights and the domestic link to the southern resort city of Eilat.
The airport and Israel’s airlines have been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As travel restrictions forced airlines to cancel flights, the Airports Authority shut down more than half of Terminal 3 and sent 70 percent of its workforce home on forced leave.
Israel’s El Al national airline furloughed 80 percent of its workforce and estimated its losses might hit $160 million for the first four months of 2020.
With no charter flights to service, most of Terminal 1 was shut down on March 13 and the authority decided to move the remaining few domestic flights to Terminal 3. Lefler said Terminal 1 would remain dark until the pandemic ended and the air travel resumed normal operation.