El Dorado International Airport
El Dorado International Airport is an international
airport located in Bogotá, Colombia. It is ranked among the world’s 50 busiest airports
in terms of: passenger traffic, cargo traffic with 622,145 metric tons in 2013) and traffic
movements with 304,330 aircraft movements in 2011). As such, it is the largest airport
in Colombia and the main international and domestic air gateway in the country, serving
as an important hub for Avianca, Copa Airlines Colombia, LAN Colombia, Satena, EasyFly and
other cargo companies. It is managed by Operadora Aeroportuaria Internacional, a consortium
composed of Colombian construction and engineering firms and the Swiss Flughafen Zürich AG.
El Dorado is the most important airport in Colombia, accounting for 49% of the total
air traffic in the country. It handles all domestic and international flights into Bogotá
and has the world’s third-largest landing field of land). El Dorado is located about
15 kilometres west of the city center; Avenida El Dorado provides passengers access to downtown.
Regular buses, known as “feeders”, transport users from the airport to Portal Eldorado,
where they can connect with the TransMilenio system. History El Dorado Passenger Terminal was designed
during the government of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. Its construction began in 1955 and
entered in service at the end of 1959, replacing the interim terminal and joining other portions
of the then brand new airport. The new terminal consisted of several taxiways, maintenance
platforms, parking areas, a cellar, passenger halls, Mezzanine areas and other amenities.
Its second floor consisted of the departures area with executive waiting rooms and restaurants.
The third floor consisted mainly of offices for the airlines and of other airport related
services. The fourth floor held the administrsative
offices and its dependencies which accounted through to the fifth floor. The sixth floor
contained mainly the dependencies of meteorology and power station of air navigation aids of
the ECA. The seventh floor held the route control facilities for the runways and taxiways
and the eighth floor contained air traffic radar controllers. The ninth floor contained
the airport’s electrical maintenance and offices, and the tenth floor held the control tower
and air traffic controllers. In 1973, the airport accomplished a milestone
by serving nearly three million passengers and processing nearly 5 million units of luggage.
That year turned out to be one of most prosperous for the industry of aviation, registering
high passenger growth in both domestic and international traffic. In that time it was
necessary for a second runway at El Dorado with concerns that the explosive growth would
lead to over congestion in the future. In 1981, Avianca undertook the construction of
the Puente Aéreo Terminal inaugurated by President Julio César Turbay Ayala, to serve
its high density flights from Bogotá to Cali, Medellín, Miami and New York City. In 1990,
the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics moved to the third floor in the main building.
During this same year, the Centro de Estudios Aeronáuticos and at the east part of the
airport the building for the National Center for Aeronavigation were constructed. In 1998,
the second runway was officially opened. Over the past few years, the baggage claim
area has been upgraded and expanded on both the northern and southern portions of the
airport, and the departure lounges towards the west have also been greatly expanded,
adding more restaurants and shops. Avianca’s main hub
On 10 December 1998, Avianca officially opened its hub in Bogotá, offering an estimated
6,000 possible connections per week, including greater numbers of frequencies, schedules
and destinations served. Connections between domestic and international destinations are
currently operated directly and through codesharing agreements with airlines such as Delta Air
Lines, Iberia, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Air France.
Operations out of the Bogotá hub allow travelers to easily connect between domestic destinations,
from a domestic destination to an international destination, from an international destination
to a domestic city, between two international destinations and allows for simpler codeshare
connections. The hub also features facilities for easier
transits, such as exclusive check-in counters for travelers in transit, buses for internal
transportation between Puente Aéreo and El Dorado terminals, and a special lounge for
international transit passengers to avoid having to go through Colombian customs and
immigration between transits. Puente Aéreo
In 1981, Avianca undertook the construction of a new exclusive terminal to be called the
Puente Aéreo, which was eventually inaugurated by President Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala. Avianca’s
original purpose for the terminal was for flights serving Cali, Medellín, Miami and
New York. During the first years of operation and until 2005 Avianca gradually moved all
of its domestic operations to the Puente Aéreo and shifted the Miami and New York operations
to the main terminal. This allowed them to streamline their operations
by using space previously assigned to customs and immigration for passenger gates and lounges.
The culmination of this process came in 2006 when the airline undertook extensive renovations
on the building. However, the airline was mindful of the impending and current renovations
of El Dorado. One possible plan will be demolishing the Puente Aéreo Terminal, Main terminal
and old cargo buildings which will be replaced with a new mega terminal. Many of the renovations
made to the terminal in 2006 were obviously temporary and designed to be cheap but effective.
For example, the walkways for the new gates are simply floor tiles placed over the old
tarmac and the structure is made of aluminum with plastic sheets instead of glass windows.
Passengers must cross the lanes used by buses, baggage carts and other vehicles in order
to reach the aircraft. Once at the gate travellers must climb stairs to access the plane, much
as was the norm in the 1950s and 1960s but has for many years been surpassed by jetways.
In February 2008 Avianca opened a pioneer store called Aviancastore which sells different
products including: toy airplanes, hats, umbrellas, clothing, stuffed toys, pens, mugs and other
such products, all embossed with the company logo. The store was an instant success and
the airline extended the concept to various other cities in Colombia.
CATAM Military Airport On 3 September 1932 it was launched the first
Military Transport Service in Colombia, when a Junkers F-13 carried Colonel Luis Acevedo
and his party to Leticia. Colonel Acevedo also served as Colombia’s General Director
of aviation. Although the military air transport infrastructure was not formed yet, that mission
was accomplished during the conflict with Peru in a rudimentary but effective way, with
aircraft like the Junkers W-34, Ju-52 and BT-32 Condor.
In 1954 he created a “Liaison Squadron” operating under direct orders of the President of the
Republic, at the time, Gen. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. The Squadron was located in the Airport
of Techo, the first airport of Bogotá. Its success led to the creation of a Military
Airlift Group, which reached the category of Transportation Base in 1959. By then El
Dorado International Airport was finished, so the Colombian Air Force ordered the transfer
of the Unit to an area adjacent to the new Airport of El Dorado, using the civil airport
facilities, while finishing the construction of a new base. The base was baptized as Comando
Aéreo de Transporte Militar or CATAM. The base was inaugurated on 28 May 1963.
The base acquired the status of Operations and Logistics Support Center by FAC Directive
No. 4429 of 8 July 1963, starting operations on 25 October. In 1968 the first two Hercules
C-130B, with Colombian airplane military numbers FAC-1001 and FAC-1002, were delivered to this
base. These aircraft, clearly designed for war missions and troop and materials transport,
were able to use short and unpaved runways used in military operations through the country,
fulfilling the needs of Colombian Air Force. In 1977, the Military Transport Aviation Command
was named after the Colombian aviation pioneer, Honorary Brigadier General Camilo Daza Alvarez.
In order to expand its capacity for troop and cargo transportation in support of surface
forces, in their fight against subversion and drug trafficking, the Air Force acquired
new C-130 Hercules aircraft that been used for security purposes but also for humanitarian
assistance. Between 1990 and 1991 the base received from the U.S. government six C-130B
aircraft to support operations to combat drug trafficking and guerrillas.
In 1996 the base opened new ground accesses through an area devoted to the Military Transport
Aviation Command. The narrow street that impeded the entrance and exit of vehicles was replaced
by a dual carriageway and a tunnel that allows access to vehicular traffic passing below
the airplane access ramp to runway number 2 of El Dorado International Airport. The
parking lot was also enlarged to serve up to 260 vehicles. The base hosts the Colombian
Air Force Museum, which has planes in display that represent the various types used in service
during the 85 years history of the force. In 2003 NVG equipment for night vision air
operations was installed in Hercules C-130 and CN-235 Nurtanio airplanes. This increased
the operational and support capacity of the base given to ground Army force, by allowing
transportation, parachuting and aeromedical evacuation on combat runways lacking illumination.
In this way Colombian Air Force almost doubled its operating capacity at this base, since
it works 24 hours a day. Terminals, airlines and destinations New construction and renovations are presently
underway in the terminal area. Once fully completed, the new main terminal will be known
as Terminal 1. The T1 building is shaped like an “h” and is divided in two piers or concourses:
the international one to the north side and the domestic pier/concourse on the south side.
The new terminal has three airline lounges in the international concourse, as well as
a food court plaza and several retail stores and cafés in the duty-free area. There are
also car rental facilities, ticket counters, ATM’s, telephones, restrooms, luggage storage
space and even a small casino. The terminal has complimentary Wi-Fi service.
T1 has several check-in counter areas, check-in kiosks and expanded immigration lanes compared
to the previous terminal. “Express lanes” were added for holders of biometric passports
and Global Entry Membership. The new terminal has moving walkways, escalators and elevators
to guarantee universal access and faster connections. The new terminal contains 32 gates: 10 for
international flights, 17 for domestic flights and 5 remote gates.
The “Puente Aéreo” is currently Terminal 2. It has been Avianca’s exclusive terminal
for domestic flights. On 8 June 2014, Avianca will move some of their domestic flights to
T1 and will operate both terminals. This terminal contains a revamped food plaza, an Avianca
premium lounge and several retail stores. The Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics
is located in the new Aerocivil Building, located on the airport property. Previously
it was located on the fourth floor of the main terminal building.
Note: 1: KLM’s flight from Bogotá to Amsterdam
will make a stop in Cali. However, the airline does not have traffic rights to transport
passengers solely between Bogotá and Cali. 2: TAP Portugal’s flight from Bogotá to Lisbon
makes a stop in Panama City. However, the airline does not have traffic rights to transport
passengers solely between Bogotá and Panama City.
Accidents and incidents On 7 June 1973, Vickers Viscount HK-1061 of
Aerolíneas TAO was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident on landing.
On 24 January 1980, Douglas C-53D HK-2214 of Aerotal Colombia crashed after an inflight
engine failure following which the propellor on the good engine was feathered. The aircraft
was on a test flight. All four on board were killed.
On 8 February 1986, Douglas DC-3 HK-3031 of SAEP Colombia crashed on approach. The port
engine had lost power shortly after take-off on a cargo flight to Rondon Airport and the
decision was made to return to Bogotá. Although the aircraft was destroyed in the post-impact
fire, all five people on board survived. On 25 January 1990, Avianca Flight 52, flying
on a Bogotá-Medellín-New York JFK route, crashed on Long Island after running out of
fuel. On 20 April 1998, Air France Flight 422 from
Eldorado Airport to Quito, Ecuador, using an aircraft leased from TAME and flown with
Ecuadorian crew, crashed into a mountain near Bogotá. All 43 passengers and 10 crew died.
On 7 July 2008, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747-209B crashed shortly after departing from El Dorado
International Airport in Bogotá at 3:55 am. The plane was en route to Miami, Florida,
with a shipment of flowers. After reporting a fire in one of the engines, the plane attempted
returning to the airport but crashed near the village of Madrid, Colombia. One of the
plane’s engines hit a farm house, killing an adult and two children who lived there.
The crew of eight survived. Future developments Due to the high demand for passengers, it
has now become apparent to build a new, more modern airport with much more capacity for
both commercial and cargo flights. Although the original master plan called for a massive
overhaul and expansion of the existing terminal, the Colombian government has now realized
the need to build a new airport. The process began with the creation of the
new terminal. On 7 February 2007, the airport gave a concession to the consortium Opain.
The national government accepted the proposal with Opain, to demolish the airport on 14
March 2008, after having given its concession. Initially the grant provided for the modernization
of existing buildings and the construction of some additional buildings connected to
the main terminal, but during the upgrading works, structural defects were discovered,
which do not compromise the integrity of the building today. Opain from the beginning had
proposed to demolish the aging terminal and had even submitted a new design to replace
it, but the government had strongly opposed it due to pressing budget and legal issues,
although many sectors of public opinion agreed with Opain. After the structural problems
were discovered, the government agreed to the demolition of the airport and compensation
for the renovations that Opain had already been hired to perform. For the airport to
handle 16 million passengers annually and 1.5 million tons of cargo, Opain plans to
move the cargo terminal to allow the expansion of the passenger terminal, and ensure access
for at least an additional avenue to 26th Street.
On 19 September 2007, the implementation of Milestone 1 of the plan for modernization
and expansion of the airport began. This consists of expanding the current Central Arrivals
Hall of the terminal and installation of the CUTE system at the terminal. This was completed
in March 2008. Additionally, the construction of the new cargo terminal, a new building
for the office of civil aviation, a new fire station, an administrative center and quarantine
were completed in September 2009. The third milestone of the project began in
late November 2009. Terminal 2, located on the north side of the current terminal, will
handle all international passengers and its construction was set for 2012. The old building
or Terminal 1 will handle only national passengers, except for Avianca’s which will continue being
served on Terminal Puente Aereo. Soon after Terminal 2 begins its operation, the old Terminal
1 building will be demolished in order to build a new terminal for national passengers.
On 17 October, the new Terminal 2 was inaugurated and on the 19th, every international operation
was moved from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. The new El Dorado International Airport will undoubtedly
be the largest infrastructure project in the city, when completed in the Summer of 2014,
it will be the largest and most modern airport in Latin America.
Gallery See also
Guaymaral Airport Migración Colombia
References External links
(Spanish) El Dorado International Airport Official Site
(Spanish) Authorized itineraries by the Aerocivil (English) Bogota Airport Information