Rene Mouawad Air Base

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Rene Mouawad Air Base
مطار الرئيس الشهيد رينيه معوض
IATA: KYEICAO: OLKA
Summary
Airport type Joint (civil and military)
Operator Military-civil joint use airport
Location Tripoli, Lebanon
Elevation AMSL 75 ft / 23 m
Coordinates 34°35′22″N 36°00′41″E / 34.58944°N 36.01139°E / 34.58944; 36.01139Coordinates: 34°35′22″N 36°00′41″E / 34.58944°N 36.01139°E / 34.58944; 36.01139
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 9,843 3,000 Concrete

Rene Mouawad Air Base (Arabic: مطار الرئيس الشهيد رينيه معوضMatar ar-Ra'is ash-Shahid Rinih Mu'awwad), formerly and still sometimes known as Kleyate Airport (مطار القليعات, Matar al-Qulay`at), used to be a military-civil joint airport in northern Lebanon, near the town of Kleyate (also spelled Al Qulay`at, Qulayaat or El Qlaïaat) and 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the Lebanese–Syrian border.

History[edit]

In the early 1960s, the air base was a small airport owned by an oil company, who used small IPC airplanes for transporting its engineers, staff and workers between Lebanon and the Arab countries. In 1966, the Lebanese Army took control of the airport and started expanding and developing its technological capabilities. It later became one of the most modernized air bases in the region. According to an agreement signed by the Lebanese and French republic, a number of Mirage aircraft were supplied to the air force and pilots and technicians were sent to France to continue some courses related to the specified planes. In the beginning of 1968, the military personnel finished their courses abroad and returned to Lebanon, with some pilots and technicians being transferred from Rayak Air Base to the Kleyate base. In April of the same year, two aircraft, flown by Lebanese pilots, arrived to Lebanon and other non-stop flights continued until June 1969.[1]

Later during the Lebanese Civil War period, flights were significantly drawn down and the aircraft were kept in storage. In November 1989, the Lebanese parliament met at the airport after the Taif Agreement and elected Rene Mouawad president. Having been assassinated in Beirut seventeen days later, the airport was later renamed in his honor, by a decree from the Lebanese parliament, and thus the airbase was established and became under the control of the Lebanese Air Force (in regards to the equipment and facilities) and under the jurisdiction of the North regional command (in regards to defense and order).[1]

In the 1990s Middle East Airlines ran flights between this air base and Beirut to serve Tripoli and the surrounding area.[2]

On July 13, 2006, the Israeli Air Force bombed the air base during the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict.[3] The airport has since been repaired and in service, mainly by the Lebanese Air Force, although domestic flights may be flown in the near future connecting Beirut and Tripoli. To date, however, there has been no discussion on the matter.

Future development[edit]

In 2010, Lebanon’s director general of the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority, Dr Hamdi Chaouk announced that Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport would be built at Kleyate with construction due to start in 2011. The airport will primarily be used for cargo and low cost carriers and will make it possible to travel to the North of the country without travelling by road from Beirut. In 25 January 2010, a Boeing 737-800 of Ethiopian Airlines crashes into the Mediterranean Sea killing all 82 passengers and 8 crew members. [4]

On January 2012, the Lebanese cabinet announced plans to restore the airport so that it will be used for cargo and low cost airlines. Lebanese authorities who have visited the airport announced that the airport will encompass a 500-square-metre (5,400 sq ft) Duty Free area and that there are major consideration about connecting the airport to Tripoli and major cities using a modern railway. To date, however, nothing has come of these plans, and restoration of the airport has not yet begun.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b قطعة عريقة عمرها من عمر الجيش اللبناني. Lebanese Army Magazine (in Arabic). March 16, 2004. Retrieved December 10, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Tripoli" (in French). Baron & Baron. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Israeli Warplanes Attack Beirut Airport". Associated Press. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2006-07-13. 
  4. ^ "Lebanon to expand Beirut capacity and open new airport for LCC and cargo flights". Arabian Aerospace. Retrieved 2010-11-15.