Data from the Israel Airports Authority indicates that more than 4.9 million passengers are projected to travel through Ben Gurion Airport during the upcoming holiday season. The surge in passenger numbers already began in recent days, coinciding with the approach of the Jewish New Year on September 15; it is anticipated to persist until the conclusion of the holiday season, around Simchat Torah on October 7.
The highest number of passengers is anticipated on specific dates during the holiday season. On September 14, a day before the start of Rosh Hashanah, approximately 102,000 passengers are expected to travel through Ben Gurion Airport. On September 19, around 100,000 passengers are projected to pass through the airport. The peak of passenger traffic during the holiday season is expected on September 28, leading up to the eve of Sukkot, with an estimated 103,000 passengers passing through Ben Gurion Airport according to estimates.
On the evening of Yom Kippur, September 24, international air travel operations will cease at 2 p.m. and will resume at 10:30 p.m. the following day.
Based on the information provided by the Airports Authority, popular destinations during the holiday season include Turkey, Greece, the United States, Italy, Cyprus and the United Kingdom.
Thousands of Hasidic Jews and worshipers started arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, with the intention of visiting the grave of Rabbi Nachman in the Ukrainian city of Uman. Throughout the week, approximately 50 dedicated flights are scheduled to depart from Ben Gurion Airport bound for Uman. However, due to the ongoing war, these flights will be redirected to nearby destinations such as Romania, Poland, and Moldova.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, "the Airport Authority has expanded its workforce, operates fast check-in kiosks and self-service baggage delivery, added fast electronic screening measures to reduce queues, established special routes for passengers with disabilities, and expanded the shuttle system for transportation between terminals and parking lots.
"The Airport Authority recommends that passengers perform check-in from home, check which terminal their flight departs from, and arrive at Ben Gurion Airport three hours before the scheduled departure time. Additionally, the Airport Authority advises the traveling public to use public transportation to reach Ben Gurion Airport, with an emphasis on Israel Railways," according to a statement.
Airport smoking is making a controversial comeback
Three years after the implementation of a ban on smoking, Ben Gurion Airport has now reintroduced a designated smoking area. The smoking area is located near the airport's synagogue, and clear signage has been installed to guide passengers to the designated spot.
Airport authorities have stated that the decision to reintroduce smoking areas was prompted by a growing demand from passengers. Over the next month, three additional organized smoking areas will be established in the space between the duty-free area and the departure gates. The Airport Authority hopes that these designated smoking areas will effectively discourage smoking in prohibited zones.
That said, there are plenty who are very displeased with reinstating airport smoking, such as Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis from the Health Ministry, who sent a letter to the CEO of the Airports Authority, saying: "The return of smoking areas to the airport will have a significant impact on the national efforts of government ministries and other partners to reduce Israeli smoking rates. The reduction of smoking and its harms is one of the important national tasks in the field of public health, as the Ministry of Health is committed to combating smoking and its consequences.
"Israel has been a world leader for many years in significant legislation aimed at preventing entry into the world of smoking and increasing the exit of smokers from this world. We see that the Airport Authority is committed to protecting public health and seeks to prevent the mentioned process. In addition, there is a need to strengthen enforcement at the airport in order to create a smoke-free environment for all those passing through," she also wrote.