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Ben-Gurion Airport awaits digital upgrade that will place it among world’s most advanced travel hubs

As Israel opened its skies to millions of passengers, an airport-worker deficit saw the international airport ill-prepared to manage the multitudes

Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Israel Airports Authority announced last week that Ben-Gurion International Airport, the country’s primary travel hub, will receive a digital upgrade in 2023 that will transform current travel procedures.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 10 million passengers have suffered long wait times at Ben-Gurion and, according to IAA estimates, the digital upgrade will shorten wait times for check-in by at least half an hour. 

With a goal to reduce a few of the time-consuming procedures facing travelers, the upgrade at the Israeli airport also does away with the initial-stage security check.

The IAA reportedly has assigned more than NIS 50 million ($15 million) toward the completion of the project. 

“A main objective of the IAA is improving services for passengers in the immediate future and, in the long term, becoming a digital airport and one of the most advanced of its kind in the world,” Israel Airports Authority CEO Hagai Topolansky said in a statement. 

According to the IAA, more than half of passengers traveling abroad from Israel prefer to do their check-in online. Part of the digital upgrade is the introduction of new service centers, called Touch-and-Play booths, which will provide passengers with a variety of online options and services. 

For instance, passengers will be able to weigh their own luggage and pay for extra weight per the regulations of their particular airline. The Touch-and-Play booths will also allow them to print their own luggage tags and even send the luggage to the plane by themselves, which will dramatically reduce check-in lines at the airport.  

The IAA is expected to expand the hand-luggage inspection area, as well, installing time-saving technology with 24 hand-luggage inspection stands.  

“People flying abroad will only go through a security check after completing the check-in process for their flight – either by checking in online from home or by using one of the independent kiosks that will be installed at the airport’s departures hall,” the IAA said in a statement. “Most of the process required for leaving the country will be done online and through digital means, maximizing comfort and accessibility for the passengers.”

With a 340% increase in passengers and flights at Ben-Gurion Airport since March – and a deficit of 1,400 airport workers – travelers who passed through the airport have complained that lines have been unbearably long. Ben-Gurion often descended into chaos, as passengers had to wait in lines that stretched even beyond the doors of the airport. 

The IAA says that the planned digitalization process will enable the process of leaving Israel to be conducted online, cutting back on the chaos. The IAA expects the total number of passengers passing through Ben-Gurion to total 18 million by the end of 2022 – and to reach 24 million next year.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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