Baghdad International Airport, the largest airport in Iraq, is located about 16km west of downtown Baghdad. It is a joint civil-military airport operated by the Iraqi Government.

The airport was built during 1979-1982 at a cost of over $900m and was operated as Saddam International Airport. Commercial flight operations at the airport were ceased in 1991 when UN restrictions were imposed on Iraq. The airport was reopened for commercial service in July 2003 as Baghdad International Airport when US-led forces invaded Iraq.

The US military installation, the Victory Base complex, surrounds the airport. The complex houses several coalition installations, including Camp Cropper, Camp Dublin, Camp Liberty, Sather Air Base, Camp Slayer, Camp Striker, Camp Victory, Logistics Base Seitz and Victory Fuel Point.

The airport was severely damaged during the war. It reopened for passengers in August 2004 after 21 months of extensive renovations. It was refurbished and renovated with USAID funds.

The airport can handle up to 7.5 million passengers a year and can accommodate aircraft of all sizes. It is the main hub for Iraqi Airways.

Baghdad airport design

“Baghdad International Airport is the largest airport in Iraq.”

The airport, spread over an area of 35 acres, was designed to suit civil and military aviation operations. A civil international terminal and a military ramp are located on either side of the airport. The Bob Hope Dining Facility and coalition installations were set up on the eastern side of the airport terminal. The facility and installations were demolished before the airport returned to civilian control in August 2004.

Baghdad terminal features

The airport has a passenger and military terminal. The main passenger terminal consists of four gate areas known as terminal A, B, C and D. Terminal D was built during refurbishment. The A, B and C terminal gates were formerly called Babylon, Samarra and Nineveh.

The ceilings of the main terminal are designed in the shape of a date palm tree.

The renovated terminal C gate area features new potted plants and polished floors. The duty-free shop at the terminal has been reopened after renovations.

The civilian terminal also features check-in counters, a baggage claim area, banks, bureau de change, a post office, a restaurant, a snack bar and a coffee shop. There are also couches available for the passengers.

Airport security

G4S Secure Solutions (Iraq) provides aviation security at the airport, under a contract with the Iraq Ministry of Transport.

“The airport reopened for passengers in August 2004 after 21 months of renovations.”

The G4S team provides physical security at checkpoint 1, terminal and airside. A quick reaction force (QRF) of G4S is also available in the airport. The contract also includes project management, operational, logistical and administrative support.

To avoid strikes by small arms and missiles around the airport, aircraft use the corkscrew manoeuvre procedure to take off and land. Under this system, the aircraft go up/descend in a spiralling pattern.

Baghdad airport runways

The airport has two runways. The Class I runway is 4,000m long and lies in the direction of 15L/33R. The second runway is located on the military side of the airfield. It has a length of 3,301m and lies in the direction of 15R/33L.

The lighting system of the runway was refurbished during the airport renovation. A total of 2,600 runway light fixtures were replaced with new systems.

Air traffic control tower

The air traffic control (ATC) centre and tower was refurbished 2005. The ATC facility consists of an operations centre and control tower located north of the main airport terminal. A new communications system of ATC centre is now fully operational. A new control panel is also installed in the ATC centre to turn on or off the new runway signs and lights.

Ground transportation

Buses are operated from the airport to major destinations in downtown Baghdad. Bus tickets can be purchased in advance at kiosks. Taxis and car hire are also available for passengers.