Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport

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Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport
Aéroport International de Beyrouth–Rafic Hariri
مطار بيروت رفيق الحريري الدولي
Matar Bayrūt Rafiq al-Hariri ad-Dowaly
BeirutAirportLogo.png
Beirut Airport DSC 0439.JPG
IATA: BEYICAO: OLBA
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
Serves Beirut, Lebanon
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 27 m / 87 ft
Coordinates 33°49′16″N 035°29′18″E / 33.82111°N 35.48833°E / 33.82111; 35.48833Coordinates: 33°49′16″N 035°29′18″E / 33.82111°N 35.48833°E / 33.82111; 35.48833
Website www.beirutairport.gov.lb
Map
BEY is located in Lebanon
BEY
BEY
Location within Lebanon
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
03/21 3,800 12,467 Concrete
16/34 3,395 11,138 Concrete
17/35 3,250 10,663 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft movements 62,980
Total passengers 6,249,503
http://www.beirutairport.gov.lb/_statistic.php?statistic_year=2013

Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (Arabic: مطار بيروت‎) (French: Aéroport International de Beyrouth–Rafic Hariri) (IATA: BEYICAO: OLBA), formerly Beirut International Airport, is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) from the city centre in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, and is the only operational commercial airport in the country. It is the hub for Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines (more commonly known as MEA). It is also the hub for the Lebanese cargo carrier Trans Mediterranean Airways (more commonly known as TMA Cargo), as well as the charter carriers Med Airways and Wings of Lebanon.

It is the main port of entry into the country along with the Port of Beirut. The airport is managed and operated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which operates within the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. The DGCA is also responsible for operating the air traffic control (ATC) at the airport as well as controlling Lebanon's airspace.

Maintenance and general upkeep duties ranging from cleaning the terminal to de-rubberising the runways are the responsibility of Middle East Airports Services (MEAS), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, Middle East Airlines.

There are plans to eventually replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with an independent autonomous government owned agency called the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) which would assume the responsibilities of regulation and safety oversight while a new government-owned corporation named the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport Corporation (BRHIAC) would assume management and operations responsibilities of the airport.[1]

History[edit]

The airport opened on 23 April 1954, replacing the much smaller Bir Hassan Airfield which was located a short distance north. At the time of its opening, the terminal was very modern and it featured an excellent spotters terrace with a café. The airport consisted of two asphalt runways at the time. Runway 18/36 at 3,250 metres (10,663 ft) was used primarily for landings from the 18 end while runway 03/21 at 3,180 metres (10,433 ft) was used primarily for take-offs from the 21 end and from the Sami end.

Premier Middle East hub[edit]

The airport grew to become a premier hub in the Middle East, thanks to limited competition from neighbours, with fast and steady growth by the country's four carriers at the time, Middle East Airlines (MEA), Air Liban, Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA), and Lebanese International Airways (LIA), and numerous other foreign carriers.

Israeli assault[edit]

In response to an attack on an El Al jet in Athens, on the night of 28 December 1968, Israeli commandos mounted a surprise attack on the airport and destroyed 13 civilian aircraft belonging to the Lebanese carriers, Middle East Airlines (Air Liban had merged with MEA by this time), Trans Mediterranean Airways, and Lebanese International Airways. This caused serious devastation to the Lebanese aviation industry. Middle East Airlines managed to rebound quickly, but Lebanese International Airways went bankrupt and its employees were transferred to MEA.

Lebanese Civil War[edit]

Main article: Lebanese Civil War
Beirut Airport in 1982

The airport lost its status and the glamour it once had with the start of the 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War in April 1975 in which it lost virtually all of its airline services with the exception of the two Lebanese carriers, Middle East Airlines and Trans Mediterranean Airways, which continued operating with the exception of certain periods of interruption when the airport was completely closed. Despite the conflict, the terminal was renovated in 1977, only to be badly damaged five years later by Israeli shelling during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The airport was the site of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, in which 241 American servicemen were killed. The airport's runways were renovated in 1982 and 1984.

Reconstruction[edit]

Aerial View of Beirut Airport

By the time war finally came to an end in 1990, the airport was clearly outdated and fatigued. It was clear that if Beirut was to try to rebound itself, it needed to launch a massive reconstruction program. A ten-year reconstruction program was launched in 1994 which included the construction of another terminal, two runways, a fire station, a powerplant, a general aviation terminal, and an underground parking garage. Many structures like the radar building were rehabilitated.

Inside the airport, with passenger check-in and the entrance to passport control off-camera to the right.

In 1998 the first phase of the new terminal was completed. It was located immediately adjacent to the east of the old terminal and consists of gates 1–12. After it was inaugurated, the old terminal was demolished and construction on the western half began and was completed in 2000, however it was not inaugurated until 2002. This consists of gates 13–23. The new terminal can handle 6 million passengers annually and is expected to be expanded to handle 16 million passengers by 2035.

It was decided early on that the original runways were no longer sufficient, especially if Beirut was to see large aircraft like the upcoming Airbus A380. A new landing runway, 17/35 was constructed protruding at an angle out into the sea, with a length of 3,395 metres (11,138 ft). This seaward protrusion was built in order to move landing traffic away from the city in a bid to improve safety and reduce aircraft noise. A new take-off runway was constructed parallel to the old 03/21 at a length of 3,800 metres (12,467 ft) making it the longest runway in the airport. The old 03/21 was converted to a taxiway for accessing the new runway 03/21. Unlike the old runways, the two new runways were constructed from concrete and feature more advanced lighting systems and instrument landing systems. Runway 18/36 is still open, although it is used very rarely.

In 2004, runway 17/35 was re-designated 16/34 and runway 18/36 was re-designated 17/35 after more accurate runway heading measurements were conducted.

On 17 June 2005, the General Aviation Terminal was finally opened. It is located on the northwestern corner of the airport and is one of the most advanced general aviation terminals in the Middle East featuring state-of-the-art facilities. All fixed base operators and VIP charter providers have moved their operations to this state-of-the art terminal.

In 2005, the airport was controversially renamed from "Beirut International Airport" to "Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport".

More damage during the 2006 war[edit]

Main article: 2006 Lebanon War

On 13 July 2006 at approximately 6:00 a.m. local time, all three runways of the airport sustained significant damage from missile strikes directed at it by the Israeli Air Force as part of the 2006 Lebanon War. The Israeli Air Force claimed that the airport was a military target because Hezbollah was receiving weapons shipments there.[2] The runways were rendered inoperative and the Lebanese Government declared that the airport was closed until further notice.[3]

Shortly thereafter, MEA used one of the long taxiways at the airport to evacuate five of its aircraft (four Airbus A321 and one Airbus A330).

Limited activity at the airport[edit]

The airport reopened to commercial flights on 17 August 2006, with the arrival of a Middle East Airlines (MEA) flight around 1:10 p.m. local time from Amman, followed by a Royal Jordanian flight also from Amman. This marked the first commercial flight arrival at Beirut International Airport since the airport's closure almost five weeks before. All runways and taxiways at the airport have been successfully repaired and the airport is operating as it was before the hostilities.

Israel ends air blockade[edit]

On 7 September 2006, Israel ended its air blockade of Lebanon. The first plane to land at the airport after the end of the blockade was a Middle East Airlines flight at 6:06 p.m. local time.[citation needed] Soon after that, a Kuwait Airways flight landed at the airport. Over the next couple of days, more airlines resumed flights to the airport, including Emirates, Etihad, Jazeera Airways, Air Arabia, Air France, British Airways (BMED), Cyprus Airways, Egypt Air, Air Algérie, Royal Air Maroc, Jet Airways, and Gulf Air.[citation needed]

U.S. air traffic ban amended[edit]

On 6 June 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush amended a ban on air traffic to Lebanon imposed since the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 to allow flights by the U.S. Government. A press release issued by the White House said that the "prohibition of transportation services to Lebanon...is hereby further amended to permit U.S. air carriers under contract to the United States Government to engage in foreign air transportation to and from Lebanon of passengers, including U.S. and non-U.S. citizens, and their accompanying baggage; of goods for humanitarian purposes; and of any other cargo or materiel. ".[4]

Passenger terminal[edit]

3 MEA A321s parked at the west wing, featuring the old livery.
The central foyer of second level in the main terminal, once passport control has been cleared, during Christmas. The entrance to the Cedar Lounge can be seen in the top left-hand corner of the picture, on the second floor.

The terminal consists of two wings, the East and West Wing, joined together by the main terminal, forming a U‑shaped building, with each wing being parallel to the other, and the main terminal connecting the wings. The modern terminal consists of 23 gates, 21 of which have jetways, and two of which are dual jetway gates for large aircraft. There is Wi-Fi throughout the airport, but it is only free for the first 30 minutes used. Smoking is prohibited in any areas inside the terminal.

Each wing contains its own departure gates, as well its own café, restaurant, newsstand, and tourism shop. The East Wing, which opened in 1998, has gates 1–12 and the West Wing, which opened in 2002, has gates 13–23. Gates 2 and 3 are dual jet-way gates for large aircraft. Gates 4 and 22 are bus boarding gates, however these are rarely used. The only way to move from one wing to the next is through the main terminal.

The main terminal includes the bulk of the duty-free, some other shops, a restaurant, and the lounges (see "Passenger Services" section below for more details about the lounges). The main terminal has four levels:

  • The ground level, which features the arrival area, and also contains a duty-free section for arriving passengers next to baggage claim. The duty-free shops and baggage area are accessible to arriving passengers after they clear passport control, but before they clear customs (this duty-free, like all the others, is not open to the general public). The general public has access to the waiting area, and there are various cafes and restaurants open to the public.
  • The second level, features the departure level, security checkpoint, ticketing, customs, and immigration. It also includes the primary duty-free shopping area, which is only accessible to ticketed passengers once they clear immigration. There is also a second security checkpoint passengers must pass through before accessing each separate wing.
  • The third level, which houses all of the private airline lounges, as well as a restaurant.
  • The fourth level, which mainly houses the airport administration offices; closed to the public and passengers.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Passenger[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Aegean Airlines Athens
Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo
Air Algérie Algiers
Air Arabia Sharjah
Air Arabia Egypt Alexandria-Borg el Arab
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal:Marseille
Air Serbia Belgrade
Alitalia Rome-Fiumicino
Belavia Minsk-National
Borajet Adana, Alanya
British Airways London-Heathrow
Bulgaria Air Seasonal: Sofia
Cyprus Airways Larnaca
EgyptAir Cairo
EgyptAir Express Alexandria-Borg el Arab
Emirates Dubai
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Flydubai Dubai
Freebird Airlines Bursa
Germania Berlin-Schönefeld[5]
Seasonal: Düsseldorf
Gulf Air Bahrain
Iran Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Iraqi Airways Baghdad, Basra, Erbil
Jazeera Airways Kuwait
Kuwait Airways Kuwait
Lufthansa Frankfurt
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal: Warsaw-Chopin
Mahan Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Med Airways Baghdad, Erbil, Khartoum, Stockholm-Arlanda, Sulaimaniyah
Middle East Airlines Abidjan, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman-Queen Alia, Athens, Baghdad, Basra, Brussels, Cairo, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Kano, Kuwait, Lagos, Larnaca, London-Heathrow, Milan-Malpensa, Najaf, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Riyadh, Rome-Fiumicino, Yerevan[6]
Seasonal: Antalya, Copenhagen, Madinah, Mykonos, Nice, Sarajevo, Sharm el-Sheikh
Seasonal Charter:Dalaman, Kalamata
Oman Air Muscat
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen
Seasonal Charter: Antalya, Dalaman
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia
Saudia Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh
TAROM Bucharest
Tunisair Tunis
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk
UM Airlines Kiev-Boryspil
Vueling Seasonal: Barcelona[7]
Wings of Lebanon Seasonal Charter: Antalya, Dalaman,Dubrovnik, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini,
Yemenia Sana'a
Zagrosjet Erbil[8]

Cargo[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Cargolux Luxembourg
Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Addis Ababa, Cairo[9]
TMA Cargo Amsterdam, Cairo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Riyadh, Sharjah, Tripoli[10]
Turkish Airlines Cargo Amman-Queen Alia, Istanbul-Atatürk[11]

Passenger services[edit]

Spirits Section at the Duty Free

The airport has all of the typical airport passenger facilities, including duty-free shops, cafes, restaurants, banks, a post office, prayer rooms, and a tourist information centre (managed by the Ministry of Tourism).

The airport has two lounges for premium passengers, both of which are located on the mezzanine level above the Duty Free area in the departure area. A third lounge, which once existed solely for passengers of Saudia Airlines only, has since closed. The lounges currently operating are:

  • Cedar Lounge, owned and operated by Middle East Airlines. It occupies half of the available lounge space at the airport.[12] The Cedar Lounge opened on 1 August 2005,[13] and extends over an area of 3,000 sq. meters, with a maximum capacity of 300 seated passengers. The lounge has various seating areas, an enclosed smoking area, a business center, a children's play area, a bar, and a self-service cafeteria.[14] It is open to MEA passengers with business class tickets, and to first and business class ticket holders from select airlines, including (but not limited to) Air France, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Qatar Airways, and Saudia.

Ground transport[edit]

The airport has a three-level car park with a total capacity 2,350 cars.[citation needed]

Public transportation to the airport does not exist except taxis.

LCC Bus Route 1 takes passengers from the airport roundabout, one kilometer from the terminal, to Rue Sadat in Hamra, whereas Route 5 takes to the Charles Helou bus station. OCFTC buses number seven and ten also stop at the airport roundabout en route to central Beirut.

Airport services[edit]

Ground handling providers[edit]

The airport has two ground handling operators, Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG) and Lebanese Air Transport (LAT).

Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, MEA. It provides ground handling services for the national carrier, MEA, as well as most of the carriers serving the airport, including the cargo carriers. MEAG handles nearly 80% of the traffic at the airport.[citation needed]

Lebanese Air Transport (LAT) is a smaller ground handling operator that conducts ground handling operations for a number of carriers serving the airport. LAT specialises in handling charter flights, but do have contracts with a number of scheduled carriers such as British Airways. Once upon a time, LAT was an airline that operated its own aircraft, however this was many years ago.[citation needed]

Fixed-base operators[edit]

The airport is home to four fixed-base operators (FBOs) for private aircraft.

MEAG recently launched its own FBO services with the opening of the new General Aviation Terminal called the Cedar Jet Centre, now regarded as the airport's top FBO. Another leading FBO is Aircraft Support & Services, which specialises in fixed-base operator services for private and executive aircraft. In addition, they operate two executive jets that can be chartered to various places. JR Executive operates a fleet of small propeller aircraft that can be chartered or leased.[citation needed] They also have a flight school. They also conduct light maintenance on light aircraft and also offer fixed based operator services. Cirrus Middle East, a member of the German Cirrus Group, is partnering up with Universal Weather and Aviation to create a fixed base operator and VIP charter service to be launched on 15 October 2012.[citation needed] The company will initially be called Universal/Cirrus Middle East, but will eventually become Universal Aviation Beirut. They aim to become one of the top FBOs in the Middle East and will cater aircraft as large as Boeing 747s.

LAT offers limited fixed-base operator services for private and executive aircraft. Executive Aircraft Services offers aircraft charter services, ground handling services, aircraft management, and aircraft acquisition and sales.

Aircraft maintenance providers[edit]

The airport is the home base of MidEast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO), an aircraft maintenance provider that specialises in Airbus maintenance, particularly the A320 and A330 series. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, MEA. MASCO has JAR 145 approval and as a result can maintain any aircraft registered in Europe.

Other facilities[edit]

At one time Middle East Airlines had its corporate headquarters at Beirut Airport.[15]

Statistics[edit]

Passenger use and aircraft movements have increased each year since 1990 with the exception of 2006, which saw a sharp decrease in both. Total cargo has trended upwards since 1990, but also experienced a significant decrease in 2006.[16]

Statistics for Beirut International Airport
Year Total passengers Total Cargo (metric tons) Total Aircraft movements
1990 637,944   8,048
1991 837,144 44,064 10,822
1992 1,092,645 48,859 14,963
1993 1,343,289 45,539 16,581
1994 1,489,429 54,007 19,045
1995 1,672,657 49,742 20,478
1996 1,715,434 46,505 21,004
1997 1,715,434 46,505 21,004
1998 2,006,956 55,037 23,051
1999 2,222,344 54,300 25,010
2000 2,343,387 52,439 29,707
2001 2,444,851 62,789 30,627
2002 2,606,861 65,913 32,952
2003 2,840,400 65,674 34,468
2004 3,334,710 62,081 39,023
2005 3,892,356 68,852 44,295
2006 2,463,576 52,638 27,870
2007 3,009,749 59,387 32.674
2008 4,004,972 71,965 49,873
2009[17] 4,952,899 57,545 66,122
2010[18] 5,512,435 77,276 58,592
2011[19] 5,596,034 74,004 63,666
2012 5,960,414 84,911 63,211

Accidents and incidents[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ Ministry of Finance Lebanon-Paris III Progress Report – Transport Sector[dead link]
  2. ^ Israelis Enter Lebanon After Attacks
  3. ^ "CNN Report: Israeli warplanes hit Beirut suburb". Cnn.com. 
  4. ^ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2008-title3-vol1/pdf/CFR-2008-title3-vol1-other-id184.pdf
  5. ^ "Germania Shifts Berlin – Beirut Service to Schoenefeld from late-Oct 2013". Routesonline. 
  6. ^ JL (22 May 2013). "MEA to Launch Beirut – Yerevan Service from July 2013". Airline Route. 
  7. ^ JL (12 May 2013). "Vueling begin Barcelona-Beirut seasonal operations from June 2013". Airlineroute.net. 
  8. ^ "Zagrosjet to Start Operation from October 2013". Routesonline. 
  9. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Schedule". Ethiopianairlines.com. 29 February 2012. 
  10. ^ TMA Cargo Scheduled Destinations [dead link]
  11. ^ Turkish Airlines Cargo Winter Schedule[dead link]
  12. ^ Beirut International Airport http://www.beirutairport.gov.lb/_Facilities.php
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 26 July 1980. 330. "Head Office: PO Box 206, Beirut International Airport, Lebanon."
  16. ^ Yearly Traffic 1990–2004.[dead link] Beirut Airport website.
  17. ^ Official statistics for 2009[dead link]
  18. ^ Official statistics for 2010[dead link]
  19. ^ Official statistics for 2011[dead link]
  20. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "TMA 1979 crash". Aviation-safety.net. 10 March 1966. 
  22. ^ "Criminal Occurrence description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  23. ^ "Ethiopian plane crashes off Beirut, 90 feared dead". Reuters. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  24. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes into Mediterranean sea". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 January 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 

External links[edit]