Beirut airport damaged in explosion, but flights continue

Lebanon's international airport sustained minor damage and is about 10 kilometres from the site of the blast

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The explosion that shook Beirut on Tuesday damaged the country’s international airport, however, flights in and out of the city are still operating.

Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport sustained moderate damage in the devastating port explosion that has killed more than 100 people and injured at least 4,000.

Lebanon's Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, said the explosion was caused by an estimated 2,750 tonnes of the agricultural fertiliser ammonium nitrate, which had been stored for years in a port-side warehouse.

The country's international airport is in the Tahouitet Ghadir area of Beirut, about 10 kilometres from the site of the incident.

Pictures posted by aviation interest group Lebanese Plane Spotters show shattered windows and collapsed ceilings at the arrivals entrance of the airport.

This photograph shows damage at Beirut airport as a result of the explosion about 10km away. Courtesy Lebanese Plane Spotters / Facebook

Some social media users also commented that there had been damage to some of the lounges inside the building. Priority Pass, a company that offers travellers access to all three lounge areas at Beirut airport, confirmed it was working with airport partners in Lebanon to assess the situation.

"Our immediate thoughts are with those impacted by this incident," said a spokesperson for the company.

Despite the damage at the airport, flights operating to and from Beirut continue to fly as scheduled.

No shutdown of flights

Middle East Airlines is operating flights as scheduled despite damage to Beirut International airport. Courtesy flickr / 

Emirates confirmed to The National that flights from Dubai to Beirut were going ahead as scheduled. The airline offers two daily flights to the Lebanese capital and both planned for Wednesday, August 5, are operating as normal.

Etihad Airways is flying daily to Lebanon from Abu Dhabi. The UAE's national airline also confirmed that flights to and from Beirut will operate as planned.

Dubai's low-cost airline, Flydubai, also said there had been no changes to its services. “Flydubai flights to Beirut are currently operating according to schedule," said a spokesperson for the airline.

Middle East Airlines, Lebanon's national airline, has more than a dozen flights scheduled to operate on Wednesday, August 5.

All flights are set to depart on or near their original times, the airline said. Flights are operating between Beirut and several destinations, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Belgium, France and Egypt.

A spokesperson for the airline told The National that "no serious damage was sustained to any of MEA's fleet on the ground".

Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport has been operating at a reduced capacity since it resumed flights on July 1, after being closed for more than three months amid the coronavirus pandemic.