There has been talk for a couple of years already that Tel Aviv’s international airport will move to the sea, literally. A proposal has been submitted to create an artificial island off the city’s coast to replace the Ben Gurion Airport, one that services local, domestic and international flights. A couple months ago I interviewed a geologist helping to develop feasibility studies for such a structure. And according to media reports it looks like the crazy plan is going ahead despite environmental risks to the fragile Mediterranean Sea, and security risks of sabotage.
A new committee from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Israel developed a feasibility report for this artificial airport island to be built off the coast of the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon LeZion. Goodovitch Architects have drafted some sketches (above) of how the airport could look.
Among the parties involved in the far-flung idea is Elie Schalit, 92, a chairman and founder of the Colbert Group, which builds giant cruise ships. He was the man who built the first ships for Ted Arison and his Carnival Cruise Lines.
According to Haaretz the plan for the airport would include a large artificial island on top of poles, 15 meters above sea level. Located two kilometers out in the Mediterranean Sea, the 250 acre landing surface would connect to terminals and cargo docks onshore. Passengers would be shuttled to and from the runways by a fast train or by buses traveling along a long pier. The project cost is an estimated NIS 50 billion, about $12 billion USD, and would take more than a decade to build.
Land grab for the rich, at the Sea’s expense?
“Former Tel Aviv municipal engineer Israel Goodovitch, the driving force behind the idea, is not concerned by the inevitable doubts. He makes use of his connections and acquaintances, and rushes through every door, loaded down with data and models of the plan that will he claims, make it possible to shut down Ben-Gurion International Airport altogether and transform its site into lands worth their weight in gold for residential construction in the center of the country.”
Doesn’t anyone see a conflict of interest in that the city engineer is also drafting plans for the airport under his private name?
With the growth of Israel outpacing its space, real estate developers no doubt have their eye on the land surrounding the Ben Gurion Airport in central Israel about 20 minutes from Tel Aviv. The conveniently located airport has become a drag for nearby residents who suffer from airplane emissions and exhaust. Goes to show why you shouldn’t buy your home near an airport and then complain later.
At any rate, this massive artificial island will far exceed the size and scope of the artificial islands in the Persian Gulf – ones that have have severe ramifications for coastal erosion and sea life. Since it will be built on poles, perhaps the environmental effects will be less pronounced than they are in the gulf?
I have to say that after flying in the air for 10 or 12 hours getting to Israel, or any location for that matter, I am happy to land on, well, land. I am not so sure about how I feel landing on an artificial island, especially in a land that has seen its fair share of earthquakes and tsunamis. And terror attacks.
My overall feeling is that this new airport scheme is a bad idea. Want to usurp the valuable land on the not-long ago revamped Tel Aviv airport? Then move it to a periphery and have travellers move about on high speed trains. Or move the people to the periphery. Where to live is all about perceptions. Create a great city and the people will move there. No need to engineer new land at sea.