Tripoli International Airport

Tripoli International Airport (IATA: TIP, ICAO: HLLT) (Arabic: مطار طرابلس العالمي) is a closed international airport built to serve Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. The airport is located in the area of Qasr bin Ghashir, 24 kilometres (15 mi) from central Tripoli. It used to be the hub for Libyan Airlines, Afriqiyah Airways, and Buraq Air.

Tripoli International Airport

مطار طرابلس العالمي
Airport typePublic
OperatorCivil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau
ServesTripoli, Libya
LocationQasr bin Ghashir
Opened1934 (1934)
ClosedJuly 2014 (2014-07)
Passenger services ceasedJuly 2014 (2014-07)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL263 ft / 80 m
Coordinates32°40′10″N 13°09′24″E
Location within Libya
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 3,600 11,811 Asphalt/Concrete
18/36 2,235 7,333 Asphalt
Statistics (2008)
Source: GCM[1] SkyVector[2]

The airport has been closed intermittently since 2011 and as of early 2018,[3] flights to and from Tripoli have been using Mitiga International Airport instead.

During the 2014 Libyan Civil War, the airport was heavily damaged in the Battle of Tripoli Airport.[4] The airport reopened for limited commercial use in July 2017.[5] In April 2019, however, it was reported that Mitiga had become the last functioning airport in Tripoli during the 2019–20 Western Libya campaign.[6][7] It was soon acknowledged that the ruling Government of National Accord (GNA) had bombed the airport in order to recapture it from the Libyan National Army (LNA).[8] Mitiga was soon shut down as well after being bombed by the LNA,[7][6] thus making Misrata Airport, located approximately 200 km (125 miles) to the east down the coast, the nearest airport for Tripoli residents.[8]


The airport was originally called Tripoli-Castel Benito Airport and was a Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force) airfield built in 1934 in the southern outskirts of Italian Tripoli.[9]

In 1938 the governor of Italian Libya, Italo Balbo, enlarged the military airfield to create an international airport for civilians served by Ala Littoria, the official Italian airline: the Aeroporto di Tripoli-Castel Benito. The first international flights were to Rome, Tunis, and Malta. In 1939, a flight from Rome to Ethiopia and Somalia was one of the first intercontinental flights.

During World War II the airport was destroyed, but the airfield was later used by the British Royal Air Force and named RAF Castel Benito, changing to RAF Idris in 1952. In the 1950s and 1960s the airport was known as Tripoli Idris International Airport.[10][11] It was renovated for national and international air travel in September 1978.[12] The existing international terminal was designed and built from a masterplan developed by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners.[13]

The airport closed from March 2011 to October 2011 as a result of the United Nations Security Council establishing a no-fly zone over Libya. The Zintan Brigade captured the airport during their advance on Tripoli on 21 August 2011. The airport was officially reopened on 11 October 2011.[14]

On 14 July 2014, the airport was the site of fierce battle as militias from the city of Misrata attempted to take control of the airport. The airport has been closed to flights since the clashes.[15] On 23 August 2014, after 40 days of clashes, Zintan forces, which controlled the airport, withdrew.[16] The Los Angeles Times reported that at least 90% of the airport's facilities and 20 airplanes were destroyed in the fighting.

While still under the control of Misrata militias, the VIP terminal, which had not been not as badly damaged, was reopened on 16 February 2017. A new passenger terminal is in planning by the political body representing the militias.[17]

In April 2019, the airport was captured by forces loyal to the Libyan National Army (LNA) and its leader Khalifa Haftar and was held for over a year, despite the control of the airport passing back to the GNA briefly in May 2019.[18][19] Due to its location at the southern border of the Tripoli Metropolitan Area, it served as a part of the larger suburban stronghold of Qasr bin Ghashir village south of Tripoli City, used as a staging ground in attacks attempting to capture or weaken GNA's hold of the capital. As a result of ongoing clashes, it was acknowledged that the open terrain was subject to retaliatory and preliminary bombing by the GNA from Tripoli frontier, making it unusable as an airport.[8]

The airport, along with the village of Qasr bin Ghashir, was retaken in June 2020 by the GNA as part of its 2020 offensive to push back the LNA and end the siege of the capital city.[20] The taking of the airport signified that the GNA had regained control of the entire city and metropolitan area of Tripoli.[21]


The airport's existing terminals and runways in a satellite image


The airport had one main passenger terminal that served international and domestic departures and arrivals. The terminal hall was a five-story building with an area of 33,000 square metres (360,000 sq ft), and was capable of handling three million passengers annually. Check-in facilities were all located on the ground floor. The departure gates were located on the floor above as was the duty-free section. Beside this was a prayer room and a first-class lounge which served business class and above on almost all airlines operating from the airport. Seen on google maps, the entire passenger terminal is completely demolished, however the jet ways can still be seen sitting in the position relative to their formal gates.

The airport operated 24 hours a day. There was no overnight accommodation at the airport but there were plans to build an airport hotel to serve transit flyers. A restaurant was on the fourth floor of the international terminal. The head office of the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority was on the airport property.[22]

Expansion plans

Apron with the halted construction of the planned new terminals visible

In September 2007, the Libyan government announced a project to upgrade and expand the airport. The eventual total cost of the project, contracted to a joint venture between Brazil's Odebrecht, TAV Construction of Turkey, Consolidated Contractors Company of Greece and Vinci Construction of France, was LD2.54 billion ($2.1 billion).[23] The project was to construct two new terminals at the airport (an East Terminal and a West Terminal) on either side of the existing International Terminal. Each of the new terminals would have been 162,000 square metres (1,740,000 sq ft) in size, and collectively they would have had a capacity of 20 million passengers and a parking lot for 4,400 vehicles. French company Aéroports de Paris designed the terminals, which were expected to serve 100 aircraft simultaneously.[24] Work started in October 2007 on the first new terminal. The initial capacity will be 6 million passengers when the first module comes into operation.[25]

Preparation was also underway for the second new terminal, which would eventually have brought the total capacity to 20 million passengers; the completed airport is expected to strengthen Libya's position as an African aviation hub.[23] Although the government identified Tripoli airport as a "fast track" project in 2007, leading to construction work starting before the design was fully developed, the project was not be finished until at least May 2011. The cost of the project had also been rising, leading to an intense round of renegotiations.[26] The project has since been halted due to the ongoing civil war that led to further damages to the airport.

In February 2019 the Libyan Ministry of Transportation announced that work at the airport had been resumed.[27] In May 2021 the foreign minister of Italy, Luigi Di Maio, announced that Italian companies would begin construction work at the airport in a few months.[28]

Airlines and destinations

As of July 2014, all passenger flights into Tripoli use Mitiga International Airport; all scheduled cargo operations into Tripoli International Airport have also ceased.

See also

  • Transport in Libya
  • List of airports in Libya
  • List of the busiest airports in Africa


  1. Airport information for Tripoli International Airport at Great Circle Mapper.
  2. "Tripoli International Airport". SkyVector. Archived from the original on 21 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  3. "Foreign travel advice Libya". UK Government. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. "Tripoli airport 'seized by Islamist militia'". Archived from the original on 21 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. " - Libya". Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. "Tripoli's only functional airport hit by air raid as clashes rage". Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  7. "Tripoli's sole functioning airport bombed by fighter jets". The National. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  8. "Battle rages for Libya's capital, airport bombed". Reuters. 9 April 2019. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019 via
  9. "Photo of the Tripoli-Castel Benito airport with a SM-74". Archived from the original on 27 October 2014.
  10. Tripoli Idris Airport Archived 22 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  11. Tripoli Idris International Airport Archived 13 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  12. "Tripoli International Airport" Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. LYCAA. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  13. "Airports Sector Report: Libya" (PDF). 13 February 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2006. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  14. "Libya's NTC fighters stage final advance in Sirte holdout -". CNN. 12 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  15. New rocket attack on Tripoli airport Archived 12 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine BBC News. 15 July 2014.
  16. Chris Stephen and Anne Penketh (24 August 2014). "Libyan capital under authorities control after Tripoli airport retrieved". The Guardian.
  17. "Ghwell in grand reopening of Tripoli International Airport |". 16 February 2017. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  18. "Rival Libyan forces say they have captured Tripoli airport | Miami Herald". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  19. Ditz, Jason (9 April 2019). "Libyan Unity Govt Bombs, Then Recaptures Tripoli Airport". Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  20. "Libya's GNA retakes Tripoli airport from Haftar's forces".
  21. Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Libya's GNA says it regained full control of the capital, Tripoli". YouTube.
  22. "Contact" (Archive). Libyan Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved on 30 August 2014. "مطار طرابلس الدولي - طريق المطار - طرابلس - ليبيا" ("Tripoli International Airport - Airport Road - Tripoli - Libya")
  23. (20 May 2008). Endres, Gunter (20 May 2008). "Libya To Restructure Air Transport Sector" Archived 8 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  24. "TAV To Build International Airport at Libya's Capital" Archived 16 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Turkish Daily News. 22 August 2007.
  25. Flying Away, (12 February 2008)"وضع حجر الأساس لصالة ركاب مطار طرابلس العالمي الجديد " Archived 17 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine (in Arabic). Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  26. (27 August 2009). "Tripoli Makes Up for Lost Time in Construction Sector" Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. MEED (from BDP Project Logistics). Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  27. "Repairing work at Tripoli International Airport resumes | the Libya Observer".
  28. "Di Maio: Italian firms will start building Tripoli Airport in few months | the Libya Observer".

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