Little Israel, big Accomplishment

Name a top-rated airport in the world and Singapore’s Changi comes to mind. Or
Dubai Intl. in Dubai. Or Schipol in Amsterdam. But Ben-Gurion in Israel?

After all, Changi has consistently garnered top billing in Travel + Leisure’s annual ranking, Dubai is relatively spanking new and Schipol has long been a top hub in Europe.

ben gurion lounge

Passenger lounge at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport

Yet, Ben-Gurion, hardly the dominant airport in its neighborhood, managed to elbow out both Schipol and Dubai to take third spot in Travel + Leisure’s list for 2017.  In fact, with a score of 79.40, Ben-Gurion came in less than one point below Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

And although Travel + Leisure doesn’t give reasons for its rankings, one reason for its choice of Ben-Gurion may be that airport’s much-vaunted level of security.  Unlike Istanbul or Brussels, Ben-Gurion hasn’t witnessed a terrorist attack in decades.

Regardless, Ben-Gurion’s high score is certainly something that both the airport and Israel can take pride in.

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Maybe, just maybe. . .

Not only is Eilat Israel’s southernmost city, it’s also Israel’s southernmost port. But it’s never been connected to the country’s railway network, despite Israel’s many pledges over the years to do just that. In fact, Eilat still sits roughly 200 km. south of the end of track, which is near the desert city of Dimona.

But Eilat may soon find itself joined by rail to the rest of Israel. China is mulling over the construction of a high-speed railway link between Eilat and the Israeli port of Ashdod south of Tel Aviv. Indeed, trains on the 350-km line would zip along at 250-300 km an hour. The line, which would also handle freight trains, would be built in large part to steal business away from the Suez Canal.

 

But the project won’t be without its challenges. Not only would the line require 63 bridges and five tunnels, but construction, now pegged at roughly US$6.5 billion, could end up double that amount, says Dr. Mordechai Chaziza, a senior lecturer at Israel’s Ashkelon Academic College, who specializes in  Chinese foreign and strategic relations.

Still, the project does fire the imagination, if only because of its promise of  finally linking Eilat to the rest of the country by means of steel wheels running on steel rails.

 

 

 

A Migdal (tower) to Kvell (boast) About

Israel recently opened a super-duper control tower at Ben-Gurion Airport, the country’s principal gateway. And the new tower is apparently something to behold.

Approximately 110 meters high with 18 floors, the tower was built so that its windows are entirely free of pillars that might obstruct the view of air traffic controllers.

Continue reading “A Migdal (tower) to Kvell (boast) About”