Ben-Gurion International Airport (in Hebrew, Namal Hate'ufa Ben-Gurion, or Natbag) is the main international airport of the State of Israel. Built in 1936 during the British Mandate, the airport was named Wilhelma Airport; its name was changed to Lod Airport with the creation of Israel in 1948, and in 1973 it was remained Ben-Gurion Airport in honor of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who died that year.
The airport is located some 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv, and handles more than 11 million passengers every year. It falls under the control of the state's Israel Airports Authority. El Al Airlines, Israel’s flag carrier, began operating out of the airport in 1948, and to this day uses Ben-Gurion as its home base.
During the 1948 War on Independence, Ben-Gurion Airport was taken over by the Israeli army and all civilian activity was relocated to a nearby field. In July 1948, authority over the airport was transferred to Israel's Ministry of Transportation and in November 1949 the airport reopened with the arrival of the first flight by a Czech airliner.
The 1960s saw the need for the airport to update its runways to accommodate new aircrafts and there was an increase in the number of foreign airlines routinely operating from the airport. Domestic flights from Ben-Gurion ceased and were moved to a smaller field near Tel Aviv until a new internal flights terminal was inaugurated in 1969.
The airport received a billion-dollar facelift in 2004, with the opening of Terminal 3, which replaced Terminal 1 as the primary departure and arrival point for international flights.
Ben-Gurion is known as one of the world’s safest airports, with a high level of security provided by the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Police, and undercover agents. Passengers departing and entering the airport are subject to rigorous security checks, many of which have been adopted internationally.