Up to the early forties, Malta enjoyed the facilities of airdromes which were built to serve the military roles of the British Empire. These airdromes were situated one at Hal Far, built in 1920 in the south of the island to cater solely for the purposes of the Royal Air Force. Another one was built at Ta’ Qali in the Ta’ Vnezja area at the foot of the Mdina bastions. Another one was to be found at Ta’ Kalafran area whilst the fourth one was that of Luqa which happened to be the largest of them all. As a matter of fact, the latter served the dual purpose of military and civil airport.
airport aerial view
The works on the Luqa airport commenced in 1937 and was almost completed in 1940. Initially it had a runway of 1,200 yards, which at a later stage was extended to 2,000 yards and another runway of 1,400 yards. The Luqa Airport was also well known as the “never invincible” airport for most the gallant part it played during the Second World War.
The last years of the Sixties and the early years of the Seventies witnessed a drastic change in the facilities, services and purposes rendered by all four military airports. The diversity of the Maltese economy obliged the local authorities to transform three of the four airdromes into industrial zones, whereas the one at Luqa to be developed as an international civil airport.
Following the measure of all military operations and the completion of all civil works under the supervision of the Italian engineer Mario Massa, the Luqa International Airport was officially inaugurated on 1st October 1977 by the then President of the Republic, Dr. Anton Buttigieg. The cost of the whole project is believed to have exceeded the nine million Maltese Liri figure.
The ever changing structure of the Maltese economy based on industry and tourism, over the years called for modernization of the Luqa International Airport. Works to this end commenced late in the eighties following an international call for expression of interest. The contract was awarded to NACO (Netherlands Airport Construction Organization) following a stiff competition from other well renowned international companies well versed in the building of airports. Works terminated in the early nineties with the whole project costing around Lm19,000,000.