The Israeli Ministry of Transportation has approved plans for a NIS3bn ($840m) expansion at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to cope with an increase in the number of travellers in the coming years.

The airport witnessed around 23 million passengers in 2018 and the authorities expect 30 million people to use the airport annually within the next five years. Ben Gurion expects a record number of 25 million individual arrivals and departures in 2019.

Under the expansion plans, the main Terminal 3 will include 80,000m² of additional floor space, 90 new check-in counters, and four more conveyor belts to receive luggage. The duty-free area, border control, and parking facilities will also be expanded.

The plans also include the construction of a fifth concourse, which will branch off from the central terminal departure hall, to accommodate additional aircraft.

“I have done this so that everyone will be able to fly from Ben-Gurion Airport and enjoy excellent standards.”

Each of the existing concourses provides eight air bridges for boarding and disembarking, with three being suitable for wide-bodied aircraft.

The $1bn Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion Airport was opened in 2004, while the fourth concourse was opened in February 2018.

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Transportation Minister Israel Katz was quoted by Channel 12 as saying: “I have approved an investment plan worth NIS3bn for the Israel Airports Authority to be ready for the increase of up to 30 million passengers a year, and to be prepared for a later increase of up to 35 million passengers.

“I have done this so that everyone will be able to fly from Ben-Gurion Airport and enjoy excellent standards.”

According to the Tourism Ministry, more than 4.12 million tourists visited the country in 2018, an increase of 14% from 2017 and 42% from 2016.

To ease congestion during the summer travel season, the airport intends to open 25 temporary service counters adjacent to the overseas terminal building.

In January this year, the NIS1.7bn ($460m) new Ramon Airport near Eilat was opened, which replaces the Eilat and Uvda airports that used to cater to domestic and international flights.

The civilian airport is expected to cater to two million passengers a year. The authorities have planned to expand the airport to increase its capacity to 4.2 million passengers by 2030.