Augusto C. Sandino International Airport

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Augusto César Sandino International Airport
Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino
Sandino International Airport.jpg


MGA is located in Nicaragua
Location of airport in Nicaragua
Airport type Public and military
Owner Republica de Nicaragua
Operator EAAI (Empresa Administradora de Aeropuertos Internacionales)
Serves Managua
Location Managua
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 59 m / 194 ft
Coordinates 12°08′29″N 086°10′05″W / 12.14139°N 86.16806°W / 12.14139; -86.16806
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 3,057 10,032 Asphalt

Augusto César Sandino International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto César Sandino) (IATA: MGAICAO: MNMG) or ACS is the main airport in Managua, Nicaragua. Named as Las Mercedes Airport in 1968 it was later renamed Augusto César Sandino International Airport during the Sandinista regime in the 1980s and again in 2001 to Managua International Airport by then president Arnoldo Alemán. Its name was changed once more in February 2007 to its current name by President Daniel Ortega in honor of Nicaragua's national hero, Augusto César Sandino.[1]

The runway at the airport is 10,032 ft long, and it is located at an elevation of 194 feet. With 1.2 million passengers in 2013, ACS is currently the fifth busiest airport by passenger traffic in Central America and it also serves as a focus city for the Panamanian airline Copa Airlines.


Before ACS, there was the old Xolotlan Airport, about 2 miles east of Managua, built in 1915 which very soon became too small for Managua's airline service growth. Thus, on January 22, 1942, the Nicaraguan Government and Pan American Airways signed a contract to construct an airport by Las Mercedes Country Estate which inspired the name for Las Mercedes Airport.[2] Las Mercedes was further upgraded, re-designed to handle Boeing 707 aircraft, and re-inaugurated on July 4, 1968 by Anastasio Somoza Debayle.[3]

In the early 1970s, Las Mercedes was expanded to more modern standards, such as four health inspectors, eight immigration officers and ten customs inspectors.[4] It was considered fully equipped, having air conditioning, background music, loudspeakers and conveyor belts for baggage handling.[5] It also had a restaurant on its upper floor where visitors and travelers could see airport movement.

The expanded airport could serve three aircraft at once and by 1975 Lanica, the Airline of Nicaragua, as well as Taca, Sahsa, Avianca, Iberia, Pan Am, KLM, SAM, Varig, and smaller local carriers, flew into Las Mercedes. When the Sandinistas took power, the airport was named after Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary and guerrilla leader, after whom the Sandinista movement is named. The Sandinistas however did not maintain the airport, and it began to deteriorate until it was expanded and remodeled in 1996, when, among other things, two new boarding bridges were installed.[4] The airport was renamed "Managua International Airport" in 2001 by then President Arnoldo Aleman and renamed again in 2007 to its current name by President Daniel Ortega.

Sculptures in the center of the waiting lobby.

Las Mercedes served for a very long time as a hub for Nicaragua's flag carriers Lanica (until 1978), Aeronica from 1979 to the 80's and NICA afterwards. When NICA became a member of Grupo TACA during the 1990s, the number of important connections to the rest of Latin America from which ACS grew considerably.

According to EAAI (Empresa Administradora de Aeropuertos Internacionales) ACS is the most modern airport in Central America and the 4th safest in the world. It is located just 11 km (7 mi) from Managua's downtown, has a runway which measures 8,015 ft (2,443 m) in length and is at an elevation of 194 ft (59 m).[6]

Embraer 190s, Airbus A300, Airbus A310, Airbus A320 Airbus A330, Airbus 340 Boeing 737s, Boeing 747s, Boeing 757s, Boeing 767s, Lockheed L-1011 Tristars and McDonnell Douglas DC-10s can land at the airport.

Push Back of American Airlines Boeing 737 at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport

A large expansion programme was underway by 2003 and as of July 2006 the final phase was completed with 11 gates equipped with jetways, and room for 20 airplanes to park. Currently the runway is also being expanded by 800 m (2,625 ft).[7] In 2011 due to greater increase in tourism, the runway was expanded even more to 3.300m.

About 360 individuals are employed at the airport. Facilities within the airport include a tourist information desk, bank, restaurants, bars, post office, souvenir shops, duty-free shops, lounges and more. To make use of the VIP lounge there are five rate options: Normal, Corporate, Affiliated Credit Cards, Minors and Infants. The types of services in the VIP lounge include checking baggage and documents with customs and immigration plus the airline; a bar service; snacks etc.[8]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Boeing 737-900 of United Airlines in gate 7, Managua, Nicaragua Int.
Taxi of Airbus A320 of Delta Airlines at Managua, Nicaragua


Boeing 727 of Amerijet Cargo at MGA
Airbus A320 of Spirit Airlines landing at Managua, Nicaragua.
A320 of TACA Airlines.
View of gates 3 and 4 with American and Spirit Airlines jets.

Airlines Destinations
Aero Caribbean Havana
Aeroméxico Connect Mexico City
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal-Trudeau
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth (begins June 6, 2015),[9] Miami
Avianca Guatemala City , Miami, San José (CR), San Salvador
Conviasa Caracas, Panama City
Copa Airlines Guatemala City, Panama City, San José (CR)
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Seasonal: Los Angeles (begins June 6, 2015)[10]
La Costeña Bluefields, Bonanza, Corn Island, Ometepe, Puerto Cabezas, San Juan de Nicaragua (Greytown), Rosita, San Carlos, Siuna, Tegucigalpa, Waspam
Nature Air San José (Costa Rica)
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental (begins May 28, 2015)[11]
United Airlines Houston-Intercontinental


Airlines Destinations
Amerijet International Miami
UPS Airlines Miami

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On February 15, 1974, a Douglas DC-3 of APSA was damaged beyond economic repair when it crash-landed at Managua Airport.[13]
  • On June 5, 2006 a McDonnell Douglas DC10-10F (registered N68047) en route Miami – Managua touched down hard at Managua and was unable to stop before the end of the runway. The aircraft overran by about 300 meters, the nose gear collapsed causing substantial damage to the engines as well as a possible fuel rupture in the wing.[14]
  • On July 24, 2007 a Boeing 737-700, Continental flight 876, with 120 passengers and a crew of 6 flying from Panama City to Houston had to land in the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport because one of the internal security windows suffered a rupture.[15]
  • On September 22, 2012, A TACA Airlines Airbus A321-200 flight TA-396, registration N564TA from Managua (Nicaragua) to Miami International Airport Miami, Florida (US), rejected takeoff from Managua at high speed after an engine (V2533) ingested a bird. The aircraft slowed safely and returned to the apron. A passenger reported they were told a bird strike had disabled one of the engines, resulting in the takeoff being rejected at high speed. The engine needed to be replaced.[16]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ Velásquez SevillaMi, Mirna. "Aeropuerto vuelve a ser Sandino". La Prensa (in Spanish). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Aeropuerto Internacional "Augusto C. Sandino"" (PDF) (in Spanish). EAAI. p. 2. Retrieved February 14, 2008. [dead link]
  3. ^ Westcott, Kathryn (May 22, 2006). "Flying from where?; Cultural Heritage". BBC News. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "History". EAAI. Archived from the original on August 10, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Managua International Airport". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Technical Information". EAAI. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Projects in Progress". EAAI. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  8. ^ "VIP Lounge". EAAI. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2007. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  14. ^ Romero, Elízabeth. "Alarma en el aeropuerto". La Prensa (in Spanish). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2007. 
  15. ^ Flores Valle, Alejandro. "Avión aterriza de emergencia". La Prensa (in Spanish). Retrieved October 26, 2007. 
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links[edit]