AMMAN: Jordan said its pressure on Israel had halted all international flights from Eilat’s Ramon Airport.
Transport Minister Wajih Azaizeh said the country’s objection to the airport in the Red Sea port city had pushed the facility to only operate domestic flights.
According to the flight departure list on the airport’s website, there were no international flights scheduled for the next two weeks.
The only scheduled departures from the airport up to Sept. 16 were Arkia Israeli Airlines and Israir Airlines flights into Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
Israeli airport authorities had previously announced that Palestinians in the West Bank could travel internationally via the airport, leading Jordan to step up its diplomatic efforts with the Palestinians to cancel the decision.
Before Israel’s announcement, Palestinians wishing to travel abroad had to first enter Jordan through the King Hussein Bridge in the Jordan Valley and then go to Amman for international flights.
Without giving further details, Azaizeh only said that no international flights were operating from the airport thanks to Jordan’s objection.
There was no official reaction from Israeli authorities to his statement.
The Jordanian tourism sector expressed concern about the Israeli decision, saying it would lead to a “sharp drop” in the number of Palestinians traveling abroad through the country.
The Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents had expected a drop of 65 percent in the number of Palestinians visiting Jordan should they decide to travel abroad through Israel.
It called on the government to intervene, solve the problem, and simplify entry procedures for Palestinians traveling to Jordan.
The hospitality sector had also warned of a “significant” profit loss of more than 50 percent because of Israel’s airport decision.
The society said around 500,000 Palestinians entered Jordan through the bridge for tourism, transit tourism, or to visit relatives and friends in Jordan.
The Palestinian-Jordanian Business Forum called on Palestinians to boycott Ramon Airport, citing the consequences for Jordan’s economy.
It said the Israelis’ failure to operate the airport was the reason behind allowing the Palestinians to use it.
A senior Palestinian official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News that the Israelis’ aversion to traveling through Ramon Airport was the reason behind allowing Palestinians to use it.
“They (Israelis) are never generous with us,” the official said. “They erect barriers everywhere in the West Bank and prevent us from working, let alone traveling abroad. This ‘sudden generosity’ had to do primarily with their citizens’ (Israelis’) declination (disinclination) to use Ramon Airport and using us to operate it.”
The King Hussein Bridge has experienced overcrowding, with Jordanians and Palestinians accusing the Israelis of intentionally complicating procedures on the crossing to push Palestinians to travel through Ramon Airport.
During a recent meeting with his Jordanian counterpart in Amman, Bishr al-Khasawneh, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ishtayeh said the Israelis were hindering Palestinians' movement and complicating their travel procedures.
“If (the) Israelis’ point is to facilitate Palestinians’ travel, they should open Jerusalem International Airport,” Ishtayeh said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs previously said the airport’s establishment would violate Jordanian airspace and international law, especially Article 1 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944 and the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
In 2019, Jordan submitted an official complaint to the ICAO about Ramon Airport and the violations.