Baghdad International Airport, known as Saddam International Airport originally, (IATA: BGW, ICAO: ORBI) (Arabic: مطار بغداد الدولي), is Iraq's largest airport, located in a suburb about 16 km (9.9 mi) west of downtown Baghdad in the Baghdad Governorate. It is the home base for Iraq's national airline, Iraqi Airways. It is often abbreviated BIAP, although BIAP is not an official airport code. The airport road is having a makeover due to the rise in tourism and business taking place in the oil-rich nation.
The present airport was developed under a consortium led by French company, Spie Batignolles, under an agreement made in 1979. The Iran/Iraq war delayed full opening of the airport until 1987. The airport at the time was opened as Saddam International Airport, bearing the name of the then-president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.
Most of Baghdad's civil flights stopped in 1991, when the United Nations imposed restrictions on Iraq after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. Because of the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom, Iraqi Airways was only able to continue domestic flights for limited periods. Internationally, Baghdad was able to receive occasional charter flights carrying medicine, aid workers, and government officials. Royal Jordanian Airlines operated regular flights from Amman to Baghdad.
Inside view of the terminal in 2003, showing an abandoned and nonfunctional FIDS (note the icon for the long-defunct East German airline Interflug in the fourth row from the bottom), in front of empty check-in desks and passport control
In April 2003, US-led forces invaded Iraq and changed the airport's name to Baghdad International Airport. The ICAO code for the airport consequently changed from ORBS to ORBI; the IATA code subsequently switched from SDA to BGW, which previously referred to all Baghdad airports and before that to Al Muthana Airport when Saddam was in power.
Civilian control of the airport is passed back to the Iraqi Government in 2004.
The airport officially reverted to civilian control on 25 August 2004. Iraqi Airways resumed regular flights, and courier carriers also began flights.
On October 2008, Turkish Airlines launched nonstop service to Baghdad from IstanbulAtatürk International Airport with three weekly flights, thus becoming the first airline to resume service from Europe to the Iraqi capital since UN sanctions were imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
On 9 October 2009, Middle East Airlines announced flights to Beirut from Baghdad. Flights will operate 4x weekly from 29 October and soon after upgraded to daily service. They will use Airbus A320 aircraft for the flights.
On 18 May 2010, plans were unveiled for an expansion of Baghdad International Airport, which will double its capacity to 15 million passengers per year. The expansion, to be funded by foreign investors, will include the construction of three new terminals and the refurbishment of the existing three terminals, which will each accommodate 2.5 million passengers annually.
On 22 November 2003, a European Air TransportAirbus A300B4 freighter, registered OO-DLL, operating on behalf of DHL Aviation, was hit by an SA-14 'Grail' missile shortly after take-off. The airplane lost hydraulic pressure and thus the controls. After extending the landing gear to create more drag, the crew piloted the plane using differences in engine thrust and landed the plane with minimal further damage. All 3 crew survived. Civilians planes routinely perform corkscrew landings to minimise the risk of damage from surface weapons.