Flood of Soviets Pouring into Israel Taxing Limits of Ben-gurion Airport

The heavy influx of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union is causing problems at Ben-Gurion Airport, where Absorption Ministry personnel have been processing the new arrivals as soon as they land.

As many as 500 emigres have arrived on a single night, interfering with the normal operations of Israel’s only international airport.

Their processing lasts into the wee hours of the morning. While the ministry has the staff available, the space problem has become awkward.

Rafi Harlev, director general of El Al Israel Airlines, suggested this week that the Airport Authority and the ministries of Transport and Absorption consider moving the immigrant terminal from Ben-Gurion to an alternative site.

One proposal is to divert planes carrying immigrants to Atarot Airport, northeast of Jerusalem.

Another is to convert the domestic flight terminal at Ben-Gurion, used only by the inland air carrier Arkia, into an immigrant processing center.

A third proposal is to establish a processing center at the Absorption Ministry’s facility in Tsrifin, about five miles from Ben-Gurion Airport, which is located in Lod, outside Tel Aviv.

The newly arrived immigrants and their personal effects would be bused there from the airport.

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