נְמַל הַתְּעוּפָה עֻבְדָּה
|Operator||Israel Airports Authority, Israeli Air Force|
|Elevation AMSL||1,492 ft / 445 m|
|Coordinates||29°56′25″N 34°56′9″E / 29.94028°N 34.93583°E|
Ovda Airport (Hebrew: נְמַל הַתְּעוּפָה עֻבְדָּה, Nemal HaTe'ufa Uvda; Arabic: مطار عوفدا) (IATA: VDA, ICAO: LLOV) is a military air base and civilian airport in the Uvda region of southern Israel, about 60 km (37 mi) north of the city of Eilat. It is the country's second international airport.
Ovda was originally built as a military airport in 1980 following Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty because the Israeli Air Force needed alternative airfields to its Sinai bases. Nowadays, in addition to Air Force traffic, the airport also serves as the destination for many commercial flights to Eilat, especially for large aircraft which cannot use the shorter runway and limited apron space at Eilat Airport.
Ovda Airport started out as an airbase for the Israeli Air Force, constructed by the United States as a replacement for Etzion Air Force Base. It opened in 1981. The Israeli Airports Authority began operations from Ovda Air Force Base in 1982, after the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt. Previously all charter flights from Europe had landed at Etzion, however this was one of three airports in the Sinai that were handed over to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords. A civilian terminal was built at the airport which handled direct charter flights from Europe.
In 1988 a decision was made that international flights bringing tourists to Eilat would land at Ovda, instead of at Eilat. This allowed the operation of large, wide-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, which cannot operate from Eilat Airport. Since then, most international flights land at Ovda instead of Eilat. The runway at Ovda also allows long range flights to take off for any European destination without the need to refuel.
Today, the airport sees regular scheduled domestic services operated by Israir, Arkia Israel Airlines, and El Al Israel Airlines as well as regular charter services from across Europe. In 2005, the airport had 746 international aircraft movements and 82,479 international passenger movements.
On 1 January 2009, the airport was closed to landing traffic during nighttime until further notice by the Ministry of Transport, due to the deteriorating condition of its runway. As such, there is currently no alternative landing strip in Israel during night time to the Ben Gurion International Airport for large aircraft, that will be forced to fly to Cyprus in case the Ben Gurion runways cannot accept the landing.
On 23 July 2014 after the stoppage of international air traffic to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport, due to rocket fire on Israeli cities from Gaza, Ovda Airport was opened to accept all international traffic.
Airlines and destinations
|Year||Total passengers||Total aircraft movements|
Ovda Airport is served by a bus service operated by Egged. Bus 282 for 21.5 NIS connects Ovda airport directly to Eilat's central bus station and the hotel district in the city. The Eilat Shuttle door to door shuttle service is coordinated for all arriving and departing flights, and costs $8-$10 per person, from Ovda to Eilat, with other connections to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Aqaba, and Taba.
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