Jumbo jets were banned in Ben Gurion to reduce noise and pollution

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has announced plans to reduce noise and air pollution at Ben Gurion Airport by banning four-engined civilian aircraft, including Boeing 747s and other wide-body aircraft, from next year.

The move, announced Thursday, is unlikely to affect major airlines flying into Israel’s main international airport, most of which have already ditched four-engine planes in favor of twin-engine planes, but it could affect cargo carriers that continue to use them. these planes for mail and other cargo.

The IAA said it has started notifying carriers of the reform, which is expected to come into force at the end of March 2023, to give them time to prepare.

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IAA chief Hagai Topolansky said Israel is working to improve its airports to meet growing demand while addressing environmental issues, as the ban is “the first step in a broader plan that is currently being developed.”

“I have instructed the relevant authorities to initiate measures aimed at reducing noise levels at the airport in order to limit threats to the environment and improve the condition of the surrounding cities affected by the crisis. The operation of Ben Gurion Airport,” he said. Topolansky, a retired general of the Israel Defense Forces who took office in June.

The statement noted that there would be certain exceptions to this measure, such as the US president being allowed to visit Israel aboard Air Force One, which is currently a four-engine Boeing 747-200.

Air Force One carrying US President Joe Biden lands at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

Most airlines have already switched to twin-engine aircraft in recent years, as engine technology has improved, and twin-engine aircraft today offer better performance at a lower cost.

Flag carrier El Al flew its last 747-400 jumbo jet in 2019. Delta, which once served Israel with a 747-400, retired the aircraft in 2018.

While some airlines serving Tel Aviv continue to use the world’s largest passenger jets, the Airbus A340 and A380, none operate them for flights to Israel.

However, a number of cargo carriers, including Israel-based CAL Cargo Airlines, continue to use 747s to ship cargo to and from Israel.

A Lufthansa Airbus A380 aircraft lands in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, February 14, 2019. (Michael Probst/AP)

This is the second major announcement by the IAA in two weeks.

Last month, the Authority announced that Topolansky has committed more than NIS 50 million to a digital transformation project for Ben Gurion Airport, which will significantly reduce waiting times by bypassing cumbersome procedures.

According to this project, which should be put into operation early next year, thanks to the new service terminals, which the IAA calls “Touch and Play”, departing passengers will be able to check their luggage themselves and pay for extra weight if necessary. .

Passengers will also be able to print a luggage tag on it and send their luggage to the plane themselves, thereby obviating the first check-in lines at the airport.

Passengers line up to check-in at Ben Gurion Airport on September 25, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Ofer Lapler, a spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority, said in June that the number of passengers and flights at Ben Gurion Airport had increased by 340% since March, and that the airport was facing a 1,400-person shortage, a situation similar to that of airports. around the world.

According to Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, Ben Gurion Airport will reach the annual capacity of 40 million passengers and 250,000 flights by 2029.

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