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All set for take off? A look back at Malta’s former air terminal

Description

Malta International Airport is the only airport in Malta and occupies the location of the former airbase at RAF Luqa.

The first civilian airport in Malta was constructed at Ta’ Qali in the 1920s.

During the Second World War, it was renamed RAF Ta’ Kali and served as the base for a fighter squadron.

The airfield at Ta Qali was devastated by enemy bombing raids in 1942 and civilian flight operations were forced to move to Luqa.

To cope with a huge surge in the number of tourists visiting Malta in the 1950s, a new passenger terminal was built in Luqa by the British government in 1957.

The new airport was officially opened on 31 March 1958 by Malta’s Governor Sir Robert Laycock.

It consisted of two floors including a restaurant, a shop, a post office, a cable and wireless office and a viewing balcony for the public.

Our archive film shows tourists landing at Luqa Airport in 1966, George Borg Olivier arriving back in Malta from a conference in London, the Malta national football team departing on a British European Airways flight in 1965, and Dom Mintoff boarding a flight at Luqa.

The now defunct BEA launched jet services to Malta in the 1960s operating Comet 4B aircraft.

In 1973, Air Malta was formed and the following year the airline flew its first commercial flight from Luqa to London. Air Malta launched using two leased Boeing 720Bs from Pakistan Airlines.

In 1977, a new longer runway was completed and work started on the refurbishment of the air terminal.

An arrivals lounge and another lounge dedicated to VIPs were added and the original part of the terminal building was used for departures.

In 1987, it was decided that the 35-year-old Luqa Terminal was outdated and too small.

Construction work began on a brand new airport and the foundation stone of the present air terminal in Gudja was laid in September 1989.

Malta International Airport was officially opened by Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami on Saturday 8 February 1992.

It became fully operational a month later and the old Luqa airport terminal was effectively closed down after 35 years in service.

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