Bahrain International Airport
Bahrain International Airport
مطار البحرين الدولي
Maṭār al-Baḥrayn al-dwalī
|Operator||Bahrain Airport Company|
|Elevation AMSL||8 ft / 2.4 m|
Source: Statistics from Bahrain Airport 2019,
Bahrain International Airport (IATA: BAH, ICAO: OBBI) (Arabic: مطار البحرين الدولي, maṭār al-Baḥrayn al-dwalī) is the international airport of Bahrain. Located on Muharraq Island, adjacent to the capital Manama, it serves as the hub for the national carrier Gulf Air. The airport is managed by the Bahrain Airport Company. Established in 1927, it is the Gulf's oldest international airport. The airport is currently undergoing a $1.1 billion expansion that will boost the airport's passenger capacity to 14 million per year by 2020. Gulf Air accounts for 67% of all weekly passenger flights to the airport.
The origins of Bahrain's international airport dates to 1927 when a chartered flight to Bahrain landed. The first scheduled commercial airliner to arrive in Bahrain, in 1932, was a flight from London to Delhi operated on a Handley Page H.P.42 aircraft named Hannibal. The H.P.42 carried only 24 passengers, and the flight from London had taken several days of flying at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Through this regularly scheduled service, Bahrain became established as the Persian Gulf's first international airport.
During World War II, the airport was used by the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command Central African Wing, being designated as Station # 13. It functioned as a stopover en route to Abadan Airport, Iran or Sharjah Airport, in present-day UAE on the Karachi-Cairo route. From 1943 until Bahrain's independence in December 1971, the Royal Air Force maintained a military installation at the airfield known initially as RAF Bahrain and from 1963 as RAF Muharraq. The majority of these facilities were later acquired by the Bahraini flag carrier airline, Gulf Air, while a small portion continues to be utilized by the U.S. Navy as Aviation Support Unit (ASU) Bahrain.
In 1936, the operation of H.P.42 aircraft from London to India via Bahrain had been stepped up to a twice-weekly frequency. In 1937, Bahrain saw the regular service of the Empire sea planes. The landing strip of these giants on the water was from where the marina club is located in Mina Salman today. From the 1950s, BOAC operated several services a week through Bahrain. These included weekly services to Karachi, Singapore, Hong Kong and three times a week to Sydney. 1950 was a significant year not only for Muharraq as an international airport, but also for Bahrain's own commercial aviation history. In this year, a new local airline, Gulf Aviation Company, was formed – the forerunner of Gulf Air. The company started with only one aircraft, a second-hand Anson Mark II, which was used initially on services to Dhahran. However, within two years, the fleet had expanded to four de Havilland aircraft and DC-3s for use on a steadily growing network in the Persian Gulf. This established Bahrain as an international stage. It was easily the most modern and advanced airport in the Persian Gulf with a good runway, control tower, lighting, communication facilities and even restaurants. It began to attract other carriers such as Middle East Airlines, Air India, Air Ceylon and Iran Air – mostly operating Dakotas. In December 1961, a new passenger terminal opened at the airport. During 1970–1971, RAF Muharraq was scaled back and eventually closed. In December 1971, the airport opened new passenger facilities, which included a wide area that could accommodate four 747 aircraft. In 1976, the airport marked another significant first with the inauguration of supersonic flights, which saw the start up of regular BA Concorde service between London and Bahrain.
In the 1980s and 1990s, major facelifts took place and several major airline companies made the airport a destination. In 1994, a US$100 million terminal was inaugurated which boosted the airport's maximum capacity to 10 million passengers a year.
21st century expansion
A BD113m ($300 million) expansion and refurbishment program was launched in the third quarter of 2006 which will see the creation of a new multi-storey car park and retail complex adjacent to the main terminal building. The expansion also includes a full resurfacing of the main runway, a new perimeter fence, state-of-the-art security systems and additional aircraft parking bays. Runway 12R/30L is mostly used as a taxiway.
In 2008, the airport was placed under management of the newly-created Bahrain Airport Company, which falls under the umbrella of the Gulf Air Holding Company, which in turn is owned by Mumtalakat, Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund.
It was announced on October 8, 2009 that BHD 1.8 billion expansion of Bahrain International Airport is going to start in 2010. The expansion, planned over the next 30 years, will triple the passenger capacity to 27 million a year. Work on the airport's expansion officially began in June 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2015. The expanded airport will increase the airport's size by an additional 40,000m², including more than 3,000m² of new retail facilities. It will also create 4 to 5 additional contact gates, 9 remote gates and 40 more check-in counters as well as an enlarged transfer facility amongst several other capacity improvements and value added facilities
In 2009, Bahrain Airport was named as the winner of the Best Airport in the Middle East Award at the Skytrax 2010 World Airport Awards. It has also received many other awards In August 2017, an American F-18 fighter jet crash landed at the airport, with the pilot safely ejecting.
The airport's new $1.1 billion terminal is set to open on 28 January 2021, boosting the airport's capacity to 14 million passengers per year. The terminal will feature 104 check-in counters, 36 passport control booths and 24 security screening points. Additionally, the building includes two hospitality lounges, one run by Gulf Air and the other by the Bahrain Airport Company.
The airport is situated in central Muharraq and has strategic transportation connections with the capital city Manama through the Airport Avenue roadway and Shaikh Isa Causeway. Airport Avenue was closed in February 2019 for nine months to facilitate expansion work on the airport's transport routes.
White and orange taxi berths are present at the airport alongside car rental agencies. There are at least five bus lines that hail at the airport; the A1 line, A2 line, 10 line, 11 line and 12 line respectively. A single bus fare costs 0.3 BHD ($0.80). There are plans to build light rail lines which would connect the airport to the rest of Bahrain.
Airlines and destinations
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|Passengers||Change from previous year||Aircraft operations||Change from previous year||Cargo
|Change from previous year|
|Source: Airports Council International, World Airport Traffic Reports & Bahrain's Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications (MTT) Annual Reports.|
(years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 2018, and 2019)
|Rank||City||Country||Number of flights|
|1||Dubai||United Arab Emirates||132|
|4||Abu Dhabi||United Arab Emirates||56|
|9||Sharjah||United Arab Emirates||24|
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Media related to Bahrain International Airport at Wikimedia Commons