Bahrain International Airport is the main connection of the Bahrain islands to the northern Gulf regions and is also one of the two major airports for Gulf Air that provides more than 50% of the regional movements via 50 international flights per day. Other major airlines providing extensive service through Bahrain airport include British Airways, KLM, and Cathay Pacific. Bahrain flights carried more than 6 million passengers in 2006 and the number has already increased by 25% in 2007 with Bahrain airport seeing 8 million passengers.
Bahrain International Airport (IATA: BAH, ICAO: OBBI) (Arabic: مطار البحرين الدولي) is an international airport located in Muharraq, an island on the northern tip of Bahrain, about 7 km (4.3 mi) northeast of the capital Manama. It is the primary hub for Gulf Air and was the hub for the now defunct Bahrain Air.
A BD113m ($300 million) expansion and refurbishment program was launched in the third quarter of 2006 which will see the creation of a new multi-storey car park and retail complex adjacent to the main terminal building. The expansion also includes a full resurfacing of the main runway, a new perimeter fence, state-of-the-art security systems and additional aircraft parking bays. Runway 12R/30L is mostly used as a taxiway.
A significant portion of passengers served by the airport are Saudis and Western expats working in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Designated bus and limousine services move passengers from Dammam, Khobar and other Saudi cities to Bahrain Airport.
In 2010, Bahrain Airport was named as the winner of the Best Airport in the Middle East Award at the Skytrax 2010 World Airport Awards.
The first scheduled commercial airliner to arrive in Bahrain, in 1932, was a flight from London to Delhi operated on a Handley Page H.P.42 aircraft named "Hannibal." The H.P.42 carried only 24 passengers, and the flight from London had taken several days of flying at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Through this regularly scheduled service, Bahrain became established as the Persian Gulf's first international airport.
During World War II, the airport was used by the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command Central African Wing, being designated as Station # 13. It functioned as a stopover en route to Abadan Airport, Iran or Sharjah Airport, in present day UAE on the Karachi-Cairo route. From 1943 until Bahrain's independence in December 1971, the Royal Air Force maintained a military installation at the airfield known initially as RAF Bahrain and from 1963 as RAF Muharraq. The majority of these facilities were later acquired by the Bahraini flag carrier airline, Gulf Air, while a small portion continues to be utilized by the U.S. Navy as Aviation Support Unit (ASU) Bahrain.