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Jordan protests against Israel's new Ramon airport violating 'airspace sovereignty'

Ramon airport is about 18 kilometres from the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat and the adjacent Jordanian port of Aqaba
Ramon airport to boost Israel's tourism to the nearby Red Sea and serve as an emergency alternative to Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport (AFP)

Jordan on Monday hit out at Israel's inauguration of a new international airport along their shared border close to the Red Sea, saying it would threaten the kingdom's airspace.

"Jordan rejects the establishment of the Israeli airport in its current location," head of Jordan's Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission, Haitham Misto, said, according to state media.

Misto said the airport violated "international standards regarding respect for the sovereignty of airspace and territory of other countries".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended on Monday the opening ceremony of Ramon Airport, meant to boost Israeli tourism and serve as an emergency alternative to Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport.

Initially, the sleek new terminal will handle only domestic flights operated by Israeli carriers.

A date has not yet been set for the start of international flights.

Ramon airport is about 18 kilometres from the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat and the adjacent Jordanian port of Aqaba.

It will be able to handle up to two million passengers annually initially but will be able to expand to a capacity of 4.2 million by 2030.

It has a 3,600-metre-long runway and apron parking space for nine "large and wide-body aircraft".

Ramon will also replace Eilat's small municipal airfield, where for decades arriving aircraft have swooped past hotel towers. 

Construction costs for the new airport have been put at 1.7 billion shekels ($455m).

Work began in 2013, but original specifications for the project were revised to allow for upgrades, in light of lessons learned during the 2014 Gaza war, the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has said.

Israeli media have said that a 26-metre high, 4.5-kilometre long "smart" anti-missile fence has been installed to help protect Ramon airport, which is adjacent to the border with Jordan.

"In an emergency, not only will Israel's entire passenger air fleet be able to land and park there, but also additional aircraft," the IAA sais.

After a rocket fired by the Hamas movement in Gaza hit near the perimeter of Ben Gurion airport in 2014, international carriers suspended flights.

Tourism brings in significant revenue for Israel, accounting for $5.8bn in 2017, the last full year for which figures are available.

Arrivals to the country of eight million hit a record 4.12 million last year, the Israeli tourism ministry said.

The United States, Russia, France, Germany and Britain accounted for most of the visitors.