Erbil International Airport (IATA: EBL, ICAO: ORER), is the main airport of Erbil (also written Arbil or Irbil, Hewlêr in Kurdish) in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region.
It is administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) under a special committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Barham Salih, and is one of two international airports in Kurdistan. The new modern airport opened its doors in 2010.
Currently, Irbil International Airport offers the least expensive aviation fuel in Iraq. It is more expensive in Baghdad even though a refinery (Dora) is much closer. As of 2010, the EIA selling price is 83 US cents per litre. In Baghdad, it is 94 US cents per litre. Iraqi aviation fuel is more expensive than in any surrounding country. Plans are being made for EIA to offer among the least expensive fuel in the Middle East and perhaps in the world at less than 50 US cents per litre.
The airport was originally built at the beginning of the 1970s as an Iraqi military base. The airstrip was used as a military base until 1991 by the Baath regime. After the 2003 Iraq War, the Kurdistan Regional Government took over administrative rule of the region. On 26 May 2005, the airport was given the ICAO airport code, ORER.
Endowed with natural resources including oil, natural gas and other minerals, investment in Kurdistan is growing rapidly. The city of Erbil has been the recipient of foreign investments. Due to the growing need for safe access into the country, the Kurdistan Regional Government, under the leadership of then Prime Minister have invested US$500 million in the construction of a new and modern airport.
The old airport of Erbil International Airport covered 7,000 m (75,000 sq ft), and was divided into departure and arrival halls. It had 3 gates and the runway, which was originally intended for military purposes, was 2,800 m (9,200 ft) long and was provided with an ILS system. Its services included the Kurdistan International Bank, a Tourism Information office, the airline companies offices, duty-free shops, a cafeteria, and the Korek Telecom office.
The warehouse offered cargo space amounting to 4,320 m (46,500 sq ft) and consisted of an import and an export section. The cargo is handled by Dnata, an experienced, professional Dubai company. Dnata also does ground handling at airports in other countries, including the UK, Switzerland, and Australia.
The new Irbil International Airport was designed by the Scott Wilson Group. The main contractor was Makyol Cengiz based in Turkey, in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipalities.
Built next to the old airport, the new airport is a fresh and modern design and places the city of Irbil back into its historical position at the intersection between east and west of the old Silk Road.
At 4,800 × 75 m (15,748 × 246 ft), the airport has one of the longest runways in the world. The new airport has a central (main) terminal for both arrivals and departures. There are two wings with 16 gates, 6 with passenger boarding bridges (air bridges, jetways). The excellent new facilities were designed to handle 1.5 to 3 million passengers per year.
All IIA air traffic controllers (ATCs) are local staff trained in Jordan, Sweden, or South Korea. They must pass both an annual technical and physical examination, and are licensed by the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) in Baghdad.
A team of specialists from the Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) in South Korea, one of the top three airports in the world during the past five years, is a partner in developing the technical capacities of IIA staff. Their high levels of expertise, meticulous analysis and planning, quiet operating style, and hard working nature have made them mentors and models to follow. Technical training and skill transfer are in progress.
A communications program has begun to develop supportive attention to greatly expand EIA activities that serve the best interests of the people of the Kurdistan Region and visitors. Children are the future of the Kurdistan Region and they are in the forefront of this campaign. So far, over 15 school groups have visited the new airport to receive instruction on how to conduct themselves when they have the opportunity to become passengers. Most have never travelled outside the region; they have never been to an airport. They come from not only Kurdish schools, but also from Arabic, Turkmani, and Assyrian (Christian) schools. This program will continue throughout the year when schools are in session.
The new IIA airport is making progress towards becoming IATA certified.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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