Beirut International Airport (Arabic: مطار بيروت الدولي) (French: Aéroport International de Beyrouth) (IATA: BEY, ICAO: OLBA) is located 9 kilometres from the city center 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) and was the hub for the Lebanese cargo carrier TMA cargo and Wings of Lebanon before their respective collapses. 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. DGCA duties include maintenance and general upkeep ranging from cleaning the terminal to de-rubberising the runways. 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.
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.
The airport lost its status as one of the premier hubs of the Middle East with the start of the 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War in April 1975 and lost virtually all of its airline services with the exception of two Lebanese carriers, Middle East Airlines and Trans Mediterranean Airways. Both airlines continued operating with the exception of certain periods of time when the airport itself 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 and 58 French servicemen were killed. The airport's runways were renovated in 1982 and 1984. By the time war finally came to an end in 1990, the airport needed to launch a massive reconstruction program.
Flickr Album - Global Planespotting of BEY / OLBA by contributors