Benina International Airport – Libya’s Second Largest Airport
Serving Benghazi, a town in Libya, Benina International Airport is sometime also referred simply as Benghazi Airport. This is the second largest airport in Libya after Tripoli International Airport and is currently operated by Civil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau. The airport is at an elevation of 132 meters above mean se level and is located at a distance of 12 km from the city of Benghazi. The Benina International Airport is secondary hub of Buraq Air and Libyan Airlines and has 2 asphalt runways measuring 3,576 meters each. The airport has not been operational since 16th May 2014, due to the clashes between militias and forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar in the region. The nearest international airport which tourists can take is El Beida International Airport, also known as Beida Airport and is 160 km from Benina Airport.
The Benina International Airport has been serving the people of Benghazi since the Second World War during the Eastern Desert Campaign when it was called as Soluch Airfield and was extensively used by United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force. After the combat units moved west, the airport came under the jurisdiction of the Air Transport Command who used it as a logistic hub for serving as stopover en route to Payne Field near Cairo or to Mellaha Field near Tripoli. The airport was bombed in March 2011 but no casualties or damage was reported. As of May 16th, 2014, all flights to and from the Benina International Airport remain suspended. Plans for construction of new terminals, extended aprons and taxiways that will allow the airport to serve 5 million passengers, are underway. The project will be designed by Aéroports de Paris engineering and will cost about 720 million LYD. While the initial work has started it is yet not clear when the terminal will be open for operation
When the airport was operational it served as base for Afriqiyah Airways, Air Malta, Buraq Air, EgyptAir, EgyptAir Express, Libyan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Tunisair, TunisAir Express and Turkish Airlines. Etihad Crystal Cargo flying to Abu Dhabi, Milan and Venice was the major cargo flight operator from Benina International Airport.
The Benina International Airport is the second largest airport in Libya and though the airport boasts of state-of-the-art technology, excellent passenger facilities and wonderful services, the airport has still not received any awards till date.
Routes and Destinations
The airport served as base for 11 airline companies that directly connected the city to Alexandria, Khartoum, Sebha, Tunis, Malta, Istanbul, Tripoli, Cairo, Jordan, Casablanca, Kufra, Misrata, Sebha, Sfax, Jeddah and Doha. Presently all the flights from the airport are suspended.
Since the airport is closed due to the political unrest in the region, no flights can be taken to Benina International Airport from any part of the world. Tripoli International airport is the largest airport in the country and was a major hub for international travellers until 2014, when the Libyan Civil War took place and the airport was heavily damaged in the Battle of Tripoli. This airport is located at a distance of around 1,000 km but is currently not in use.
Tobruk Airport, which is located at a distance of 345 km from the Benina International Airport, is currently operational. However, this is a domestic airport and hence not suitable for those foreign travellers planning a trip to Libya.
The Mesratha Airport and Mitiga Airport are currently operational as a domestic as well as international airport. The Mesratha International Airport is a joint civil and military airport and after a brief hiatus following the clashes at Tripoli International Airport, the airport was reopened for public on 15th July, 2014. Currently only Afriqiyah Airways to Amman, Istanbul and Alexandria, Libyan Airlines to Alexandria and Ghadames Air Transport to Istanbul, operate from here. The Mesratha International Airport is 819 km from Benina Airport and is directly connected only via roads.
At a distance of 8 km from the Tripoli city and 1,020 km from Benina Airport, Mitiga International Airport is currently the only airport serving Tripoli. This is among the oldest airports in the country and originally built in 1923 by the Italian Air Force who called it ‘Mellaha Air Base’. The airport was also actively used as a German air base during Second World War and currently Libyan Airlines, Afriqiyah Airways and Buraq Air operate to and from the airport to Alexandria, Casablanca, Niamey, Khartoum and Istanbul. The current political scenario in Libya is very unstable due to the ongoing Second Civil War; hence it is best to avoid public transport. Passengers intending to travel to Benina airport should better not travel during this time or in case of urgency can hire a cab to travel between the two airports.