Airport to implement new runway monitoring
a highly publicized near-collision earlier
this month at Ben-Gurion Airport, officials
of the Israel Airports Authority announced
last week the activation of a new system
for preventing similar incidents in the future.
Following a series of recent tests, the IAA
will put into use the Critical Area Management
System, a new program designed to detect
and notify control tower workers about all
vehicles, aircraft and other objects on the
The implementation of the new system, scheduled
for the end of October, comes not long after
the latest headline-making near-miss at Ben-Gurion,
in which an Italian charter plane idled on
the runway directly in the path of an Israir
jet preparing to land. The near-collision,
which took place earlier this month, was narrowly
averted when an El Al pilot spotted the Italian
carrier and notified the airport control tower,
which in turn was able to head off a collision
between the two planes.
The new monitoring system, which operates with
optical sensors and radar technology, will
initially be used to supervise one of Ben-Gurion's
landing strips. Its use can potentially be
expanded at a later date to cover a wider area.
The IAA also announced last week that its leadership
would be holding meetings with representatives
of Ben-Gurion's air traffic controllers, who
complained after the most recent near-miss
that they were being unfairly blamed for wider
systemic problems at the airport.
In a statement, the IAA described the meetings
and new monitoring system as part of its response
to recommendations recently issued by investigators
of the US Federal Aviation Administration.
A full report on the FAA investigation of Ben-Gurion
is expected to be released by the end of the
year, with the IAA pledging to implement "all
the recommendations" it contains.
The government allocated an NIS 550 million
budget in September to upgrade safety and security
infrastructure at Ben-Gurion and the country's
other border crossings over the next three
delegation pushes Peresfor Tokyo-Tel Aviv flights
delegations come to Israel all the time,
and for all sorts of reasons: the country's
religious sites, various diplomatic initiatives
and sometimes just for the country's natural
A Japanese group touring Israel last week arrived
for a rather more novel reason: to learn about
Famously lacking in the Middle East's most
famous natural resource - oil - Israel has
attracted attention in some quarters for a
less geopolitically significant asset, the
seaweed that grows in the waters off Eilat.
Japanese health and beauty company Nikken,
among the largest of its kind in the world,
sent 250 of its workers to Israel last week
to learn about the southern city's seaweed
supply, and to visit Rehovot's Weizmann Institute,
where a number of the company's seaweed-based
products are developed.
Nikken has offered visits to Israel as "incentive
trips" for years, and in addition to Eilat
and Rehovot, this latest group visited sites
at the Dead Sea and in Jerusalem, including
the city's Hadassah Hospital.
Accompanied at times by Yoshinori Katori, Japan's
ambassador to Israel, members of the delegation
also met with President Shimon Peres and Tourism
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich. On the agenda
for the meetings was the start of non-stop
flights between Tel Aviv and Japan, which Nikken
officials described as a major potential boost
to both business relations and tourism ties
between the two countries.
The discussions marked the second time in recent
months that the subject has been raised with
Aharonovich. In August, the tourism minister
met with the head of JTB, Japan's largest travel
agency, in Tokyo.
The agency official, Takashi Sasaki, pledged
to lobby the Japanese government to facilitate
the flights, and agreed to return Israel to
the list of travel destinations promoted by
Israel had been removed from the list in 2002,
when foreign visits to the country plunged
as a result of the second intifada.
hotels honored with World Travel Awards
Israeli hotels are splitting prizes in five
categories, the World Travel Awards organization
has announced. Tel Aviv's David Intercontinental
Hotel took honors as Israel's best hotel and
business hotel in the WTA voting, while the
Le Meridien Dead Sea Hotel was named the country's
leading resort and leading spa resort. A fifth
prize, for Israel's nicest hotel suite, went
to the David Intercontinental.
Voted on by travel agents from around the world,
the World Travel Awards are given on both a
regional and country-by-country basis. Israel,
which is considered part of Europe in the WTA
voting, failed to take any prizes in the regional
competition. Turkey, also defined as a European
country by the WTA, took top honors for the
region's best tourist and convention bureau.
The World Travel Awards, now in their 14th
year, have recognized Le Meridien Dead Sea
in each of the past three years. The awards
have been called "the Oscars of tourism" by
The Wall Street Journal.