Lebanon to expand Beirut capacity and open new airport for LCC and cargo flights
Beirut Airport is to more than double previous expansion plans with work due to begin early next year in order to meet growing demands. A second international airport is also to be opened in the north of Lebanon.
In an interview with Lebanon’s director general of Civil Aviation, Dr Hamdi Chaouk, it was confirmed that Beirut is to increase its capacity from six million passengers a year to 18 million with the construction of a new terminal and 23 new gates – taking the total to 46.
Dr Chaouk said that up to seven of these gates would be designed to take the Airbus A380.
“We have talked to Emirates and Qatar,” Chaouk said, “They need to have an alternative airport for their routes from the Gulf to London and we can provide that. It also gives us opportunities to grow.”
Lebanon is also to build a second major airport at Kleyate. The existing Rene Mouawad airport is primarily utilised by the military but only part of its 3,000m runway is usable following previous Israeli attacks.
According to Chaouk the new Mouawad Airport will see a rebuilding of the runway plus a free zone area. “We see this airport handling cargo and low cost carriers,” says Chaouk.
“It is just 80 km from Beirut and also close to tourist points in the north,” he said.
Meanwhile work on the expansion of Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut could start as early as January.
“We had already done a lot of the work in the planning for the most recent building,” Chaouk said.
The existing terminal is already close to its six million capacity and is likely to pass it later this year. Lebanon has been enjoying a 25% traffic and passenger growth since direct hostilities with Israel ended three years ago.
The new building is likely to be completed in stages to enable growth to continue during the three years of construction.
Runway 17/35 which was repaired following the 2006 rocket attacks by Israel will completely refurbished.
The plans are also in place to build additional hangars on the airport to increase MRO potential for the airport.