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El Dorado International Airport

El Dorado International Airport is an international airport located in Bogota, Colombia. It is the largest Latin American airport in terms of cargo movements with 512.844 tons (2009) and the third in terms of passenger traffic, only behind Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport, Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, transporting 14'899.199 passengers in 2009; as well as the largest airport in Colombia and the main international and domestic air gateway in the country, serving as an important hub for Avianca (the national flag carrier of Colombia), AeroRepublica, Aires, EasyFly and other cargo companies. It is managed by Operadora Aeroportuaria Internacional (Opain), a consortium composed of Colombian construction and engineering firms and the Swiss Flughafen Zurich AG.

El Dorado is, politically and economically, the most important airport in Colombia and serves as the nation's primary international gateway, accounting for 49% of the total air traffic in the country. It handles all domestic and international flights into Bogota and boasts the world's third largest landing field of land. El Dorado is located about west of the city center; Avenida El Dorado (26 street), one of the fastest highways in Bogota, provides passengers access to downtown. At the end of the year 2008 construction of a new TransMilenio line started, which will connect the airport with the mass transportation system of the city.


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 management 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 hit a milestone by serving nearly three million passengers and processing nearly 5 million pieces 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 loads. In that time the necessity for a second runway at El Dorado was expressed under concerns that the explosive growth would lead to over congestion in the future. In 1981, Avianca undertook the construction of the Puente Aereo Terminal inaugurated by President Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, to serve its high density flights from Bogota to Cali, Medellin, Miami and New York City. In 1990, the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics (Aerocivil) moved to the third floor in the main building. During this same year, the Centro de Estudios Aeronauticos 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 areas has been extended 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 December 10, 1998, Avianca officially opened its hub in Bogota, 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, Mexicana, Lacsa (part of Grupo Taca), Iberia and Air Canada.

Operations out of the Bogota hub allow travelers to easily connect between domestic destinations (such as Medellin to San Andres), from a domestic destination to an international destination (Such as Cali to Los Angeles), from an international destination to a domestic city (Such as Ft. Lauderdale to Baranquilla), between two international destinations (Such as Paris to Guayaquil) and allows for simpler codeshare connections (such as Atlanta to Cartagena with Delta Air Lines and Avianca).

The hub also features facilities for easier transits, such as exclusive check-in counters for travelers in transit, buses for internal transportation between Puente Aereo and El Dorado terminals, and a special lounge for international transit passengers to avoid having to go through Colombian customs and immigration between transits.

Terminals and destinations

The airport has two passenger terminals, the main terminal, El Dorado, named after the famed legend of El Dorado handles all international and domestic arrivals, except Avianca's domestic flights. Check-in counters, ticket counters, immigration office and customs are located on the lower level while information boards, information office, waiting rooms and emigration are located on the upper level.

The main building has two concourses, the national concourse and the international concourse. The national concourse has 11 gates and 5 additional for regional flights. The international concourse has 9 gates. This main building has a passenger area of and provides different services such as travel agencies, restaurants and cafeterias, book stores and craft shops, ATM machines, duty free shops, communication services and Internet. At the national and international arrivals, passengers can find tourist information offices and transportation services within the city.

The second terminal, called Puente Aereo (air bridge) is a privately owned terminal that exclusively serves Avianca's and its subsidiary SAM's domestic and regional flights. Initially, the terminal exclusively served passengers on the Miami, New York-JFK, Cali, Medellin, Pasto, and Monteria routes. It was renovated in October 2006, after an investment of USD$7.5 million and handles a total of more than 120 daily flights with capacity to handle 4.4 million passengers annually. It adds, as well, a constructed area of and 14 domestic gates and helps reducing connection times between domestic flights. The terminal also provides additional services for travelers and visitors, such as access to shopping facilities, national and international calls, taxi services, ATM machines, restaurants and fast food restaurants and book shops.

Cargo airlines

Traffic and statistics

Accidents and incidents

On 7 June 1973, Vickers Viscount HK-1061 of Aerolineas TAO was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident on landing.

Avianca Flight 52, flying on a Bogota-Medellin-New York JFK route, crashed on January 25, 1990 on Long Island after running out of fuel.

Air France Flight 422 from Eldorado Airport to Quito, Ecuador, using an aircraft leased from TAME and flown with Ecuadorian crew, crashed on April 20, 1998 into a mountain near Bogota. All 43 passengers and 10 crew died.

On July 7, 2008, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747-209B (N714CK serial number 22446/519) crashed shortly after departing from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota 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

On August 24, 2006, the Colombian government awarded a 20-year concession contract to Opain for the operation of the airport, including investments of about USD$600 million for expansion and modernization during the first five years. The original plan would begin in 2007 and was planned to end in 2012 with:

The construction of a new international terminal and the modernization of the current terminal, with a capacity of 16 million passengers a year.

The construction of a new cargo terminal, with for storage, for offices and 26 parking positions for planes.

The construction of a new 6 floors tall office building annexed to the new international terminal.

The construction of a new maintenance area ( with an appropriate turbine tester and the sound barriers that are necessary to avoid noise pollution.

In the first half of 2007, there was controversy over a proposal made by Opain, in which the domestic and international cargo areas were to be placed at the west part of the complex and a new terminal would be constructed instead of remodeling the previous building. Finally, Aerocivil rejected the proposal, but the possibility of demolishing the old terminal remained. The first works began on September 2007, involving the expansion of the check-in area and a new baggage handling system; it was opened to the public on March 20, 2008. The second part commenced on March 2008 and was opened on September 2009. This includes a building for Aerocivil, a new international cargo terminal and the addition of a new domestic cargo terminal.

After two years of uncertainty it was decided the demolition of the current major terminal and its replacement by a building that will form a new single international and domestic terminal with the building that will be constructed to the north. The third milestone began construction in late November 2009. It consists of a new building on the north side of the current main terminal. This will require demolishing the domestic cargo terminal, which will start operating in the new cargo buildings. In February, 2010 it was announced that 2014 is the new expected completion date.

See also

Guaymaral Airport

External links

El Dorado International Airport Official Site

Authorized itineraries by the Aerocivil (only passenger airlines)

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