Known affectionately by Israelis as “Natbag” (the Airport’s Hebrew acronym), Ben-Gurion Airport has played a prominent part in Israel’s history by keeping pace with the rise of civil air traffic to and from the nation. Currently handling more than 12 million passengers each year, the International Airports Council recently rated Ben-Gurion the best airport in the Middle East.
As a contractor for the Ministry of Defense, Shapir also paves runways at Israel Air Force bases, including Palmachim, Hatzerim, Tel Nof, Hatzor, Sde Dov, and Ramat David. Because of these skills, Shapir has been tapped by the Israel Airports Authority for similar needs at Ben-Gurion Airport. Each project demanded uncompromising engineer standards, professional execution, and the use of the most durable materials available.
In the 1990s, Shapir upgraded Ben-Gurion’s 12-30 Runway, one of the two main runways at the airport. Over a decade later, Shapir continues to maintain it with periodic asphalt repairs. The company likewise renovated the second main runway (08-26, known as the “quiet runway”). Later, when an extra taxiway was contracted on short notice, Shapir supplied and paved yet another 160,000 tons of asphalt.
For the “NATBAG 2000” project – the major renovation and expansion of Ben-Gurion at the turn of the millennium – Shapir was the main contractor for the jet parking lot around the new terminal, the access lanes (taxiways) to the main runways, and the jet-service runways. This combination of pavements required different materials: concrete for the stationary jets, and asphalt for their ground movement. The extensive concrete needed for these sites was manufactured independently by Shapir in production facilities erected at the site; the concrete was applied with special state-of-the-art concrete slipform pavers acquired from a German manufacturer. The asphalt paving included the jet runways and taxiways, and new covered and open car lots specified for NATBAG 2000, bringing the Airport’s parking capacity to over 11,000 vehicles.
Shapir’s other contributions to Ben-Gurion Airport demonstrate a full range of engineering genius: an innovative fueling system for the planes, with specially designed slot drainage systems, tank fueling, hydrant leak hydrant leak detection system and 10 kilometers of piping; airport infrastructure with electricity, drainage, water, an electricity station, communication structures, and one million cubic meters of earthworks; and perimeter structures including security fences, a security gate complex, security compounds and retaining walls.