Gulf of Aqaba- Transportation
 Chapter 2 Gulf of Aqaba
 INTRODUCTION  |  JORDAN  RIFT  VALLEY  |  GULF  OF  AQABA  | SOUTH  EAST  MEDITERRANEAN  | ISRAEL  PROJECTS        
2. Transportation
 Gulf of Aqaba- Transportation
   
 Gulf of Aqaba- Transportation
 Gulf of Aqaba- Transportation
Development Plan for Eilat-Eilot
 

The development of an intraregional transportation system is one of the preconditions for building a new integrated and economically developed region. Improved transport ties between the countries of the region is a pre-requisite to take advantage of their geographic location as a junction between Asia, Africa and Europe.

In the Gulf of Aqaba sub-region, local planning interest often coincide with regional development objectives. In the transport sector, synergies are easily identifiable. A coordinated transportation network will prove more efficient and will obviate redundancies. For example, the Port of Aqaba, which is larger and better equipped to handle large shipments of bulk goods could specialize in Jordanian and Israeli mineral exports, while the smaller Port of Eilat could be used primarily for passenger and tourism traffic. Similarly, local road systems designed to expedite surface traffic to and from port areas, such as Aqaba back road and Eilat by-pass road, could be integrated into proposed international highway systems, such as the Ein Netafim-Aqaba Ring Road. The joint International Airport which is being established at the Aqaba airport is another example.

2.1. The Aqaba-Eilat Peace International Airport

The governments of Israel and Jordan have agreed to develop a project to expand the Aqaba International Airport into a joint regional international airport capable of accommodating the total traffic demand for the southern part of both Jordan and Israel. A feasibility study for the bi-national airport was conducted by an American firm.

The benefits of developing a common airport include:

  • maximizing use of the Aqaba airport which is under-utilized;
  • obviating the need for the current Eilat airport which is operating at near capacity, is environmentally undesirable and is unable to service large aircraft;
  • achieving economies of scale by eliminating wasteful duplication of infrastructure and facilities;
  • improving air traffic safety in the area;
  • exploiting the potential for creating a major logistic center around the airport region;
  • >

  • enhancing cooperation and developing tourism in the Aqaba-Eilat region.

The preferred option is based on an expansion of the existing Aqaba airport which would consist of upgrading the existing runway, constructing new terminals for Israeli-bound traffic and expanding Jordanian terminal facilities. During the first stage, there will be separate terminals for Israeli and Jordanian traffic.

The airport will be administered by a joint Airport Entity that will be headquartered in Jordan. It will responsible for the administration and operation of the airport and its terminals and will implement all infrastructure improvements. The Jordanian Authority will continue to run operations and will charge the joint entity for services. Profits and deficits from airport operations will be shared by both Israel and Jordan on a pro-rata basis. Each country is responsible for transport linkages to the airport on each side.

This option would enable costs savings, efficient land utilization and would be favorable from the standpoint of environmental protection. The estimated cost of this alternative comes to approximately $50 million.

Israel and Jordan have decided to launch a pilot project in which the Aqaba International Airport will be used for commercial international flights bound for and departing from the Eilat Airport. Passengers and baggage will be transferred immediately by Israeli vehicles to the Israeli side for customs and passport control. Transit passengers will remain on the plane.

The Airport itself will be the center of a larger logistic complex. The Wadi Araba/Arava border crossing will be moved northward to accommodate both passenger and cargo traffic. The proposed Aqaba- Ein Netafim road would pass through this point. Manufacturing facilities will be developed on both sides of the border. A transshipment service center and cold storage facility are also planned for the Jordanian side.

2.2. Relocation of the Wadi Araba/Arava Border Crossing

The current location of the Arava/Wadi Araba crossing was designated as temporary. Despite its proximity to the two cities, this site is limiting and does not address the development objectives of the Aqaba/Eilat region. The following project proposes to relocate the border crossing to the area north of the Aqaba Peace Airport in order to allow it to play an important role in the logistic development of the subregion.

Development of the Israeli side is envisaged to be centered around three focal points:

  • Border crossing terminal: The terminal will be designed to handle projected passenger and cargo traffic, including: domestic and international tourism, cargo between Israel and Jordan, between Egypt and Jordan (and Saudi Arabia), as well as international transit traffic (e.g. Europe-Asia via Israels Mediterranean ports).
  • Auxiliary service area: This area will be located directly west of the crossing terminal and will be designated for facilities and services tied with processing passenger cargo traffic. Facilities and operations will include: storage, packaging, air freight, customs clearing, car rentals, public ground transportation, commercial services.
  • Juncture with surface transportation networks: Connections with surface transportation will take place west of the terminal area. This includes an interchange connection with Road No. 90 and a proposed train station, should a rail connection to Eilat/Aqaba be constructed.

This project has been evaluated for three different sizes of facilities, based on various traffic projections:

 

Large

Medium

Small

Designated Use

Passenger & Cargo

Passenger & Cargo

500 Tourists/yr

Total Designated Area

1000 thou. sq. m.

400 thou. sq. m.

80 thou. sq. m.

Terminal Size

3,000 m2

1,500 m2

700 m2

Warehouses

125,000 m2

90,000 m2

45,000 m2

Commercial

10,000 m2

no

no

Parking

1,400 vehicles

500 vehicles

300 vehicles

Heavy Vehicle Parking

yes

no

no

Investment*

$83 million

$34 million

$17 million

Revenues

$10 million

$4 million

$2 million

* Does not include cost of land.
Source: Development Plan for the Eilat-Eilot Region

2.3. Aqaba-Ein Netafim Road

This proposed road is the result of the Peace Agreement with Egypt and trilateral peace talks between Jordan, Israel and the United States. All sides have agreed in principle on the need to build a road connecting Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

This road is designed to bypass the cities of Aqaba and Eilat providing a link between Aqaba and Ras al Naqab in Egypt via Israeli territory. This link would provide the shortest time and distance link from Cairo and Suez to Aqaba and Saudi Arabia, saving as much as 6 hours and 70kms travel. Accordingly, this project may have profound implications for improving the capacity of the region as a logistic gateway for trade between North Africa and Asia.

Israel is planning a major highway designed to divert traffic to and from the Eilat Port away from the coastal road that transverses downtown Eilat. This road will meet up with the Arava highway (Road 90) near the Aqaba-Eilat Peace Airport and new border crossing. The latter section of this road could be easily integrated into the proposed international system, enhancing the functionality of the international road.

The primary benefits to be gained from this project are:

  • opportunity to solve traffic congestion and ecological problems in Eilat, enhancing the citys attraction as a tourist destination;
  • facilitation of access to the Port of Eilat and points south;
  • facilitation of Israeli and transit traffic to the Port of Aqaba;
  • facilitation of access to the Aqaba-Eilat Peace Airport;
  • facilitation of traffic between Egypt and Jordan and provision of a land link between Egypt and the Persian Gulf States.

An estimation of current demand for the road (based on annual passenger crossings on the Nuweiba-Aqaba ferry) comes to 1.2 million annually. The estimated cost of the road comes to approximately $100 million. The entire road, or sections of it could be operated as a toll road.

Border Crossing at Ein Netafim

Development of the Ein Netafim-Aqaba Road rdevelopment of the border crossing at Ein Netafim to process transit traffic. This project is elaborated in the blueprint for development of the Eilat Municipality and the Eilot Region. Development of the border crossing includes: construction of a terminal for customs, security and passport control, and development of support services such as storage, customs clearance agents, car rentals and public transportation. It will reduce the load on the Taba crossing to a large extent, and reduce traffic through Eilat on the coastal road.

Economic calculations are based on projected traffic which is estimated to be approximately 70% of the traffic expected for the Israeli- Jordanian border crossing. Three alternatives were developed, to match various project scopes:

 

Large

Medium

Small

Total Designated Area

700 thou. sq. m.

160 thou. sq. m.

80 thou. sq. m.

Terminal Size

2,000 m2

1,500 m2

700 m2

Warehouses

80,000 m2

60,000 m2

30,000 m2

Commercial

7,000 m2

no

no

Parking

1,000 vehicles

500 vehicles

300 vehicles

Investment

$58 million

$26 million

$14 million

Revenues

$6.5 million

$ 3 million

$1.5 million

Source: Development Plan for the Eilat-Eilot Region