José María Córdova International Airport

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José María Córdova International Airport
Aeropuerto Internacional José María Córdova


MDE is located in Colombia
Location of airport in Colombia
Airport type Commercial
Operator AirPlan
Serves Medellín Metropolitan Area
Location Rionegro
Hub for Avianca Cargo and Viva Colombia
Elevation AMSL 2,142 m / 7,027 ft
Coordinates 06°10′02″N 75°25′36″W / 6.16722°N 75.42667°W / 6.16722; -75.42667
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 (Old 18/36) 3,557 11,483 Paved
Statistics (2012)
Passengers movement 5.077.540
Cargo movement 111.655tn
Air operations 66.543

José María Córdova International Airport (IATA: MDEICAO: SKRG) is the second largest airport in Colombia after the El Dorado International Airport of Bogotá in terms of infrastructure and passenger service. It is located in the city of Rionegro, 45 minutes away from the city of Medellín.

It's the most important airport in the department of Antioquia, and it´s also the main hub for low cost airline Viva Colombia. In terms of infrastructure, it is the most important in western Colombia. Serves several international destinations, one of the busiest being the route to Miami International Airport. Also serves the most flown route within Colombia (Rionegro-Bogota), which is currently served by main airlines, mainly Avianca, Copa Airlines Colombia, Viva Colombia and LAN Colombia. In the recent years, some significant upgrades have been made regarding its technology and infrastructure, making it one of the most recognized airports in Colombia. LCD Screens have been added, as well as service to European Destinations and new ones in South and Central America and the Caribbean.

International traffic departs from JMC towards destinations in the United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Curaçao and Spain, The airport also serves domestic flights to most major Colombian cities such as Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta and San Andres Island. Freight transport is also one of the strengths of the terminal, providing air transportation to most of the flower output (and other products) from eastern Antioquia bound to South, Central and North America, and Europe.

Since its inauguration in 1985 until 1990, the terminal had heavy passenger and cargo movement, in part because the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport, which is located in Medellín, was closed. When it reopened, traffic reduced. However, since 1993, there has been a steady increase in traffic, due to an increase in the number of airlines flying into the airport, including American Airlines, LAN, Taca, Aerogal. As for cargo airlines, Martinair, Centurion Air Cargo, ABSA, and Florida West International Airways and national freight airlines such as Tampa Cargo, LANCO, AeroSucre have increased their flights to the terminal. The airport is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation.


The airport serves all major international and domestic routes in contrast to Olaya Herrera Airport which serves the Medellín area with regional flights and airlines. José María Córdova is set for a major expansion which will include new international terminals and an expansion on the cargo terminal this is set to start next year according to the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics. The airport is named after José María Córdova, a Colombian army general who was a native of Ríonegro City, sometimes spelled Córdoba.

The José María Córdova International Airport is the second in Colombia in total passenger and cargo also international, national and international after the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota. The runway is also used by the nearby military base in the Air Force of Colombia located in Rionegro, named Air Combat Command No. 5 (CACOM 5), where all types of military and national police aircraft arrive and depart.

The airport has air navigation aids such as VOR, NDB, ILS, which allows greater ease of operation for pilots making navigation and landings safer in bad weather. In January 2006, the Airbus A380, landed at the air terminal (first time on Colombian soil) to conduct technical tests of the engines. Antioquia's exports, most which are flowers, and other products from the region depart en route to international destinations from these terminals. The main Cargo operator TAMPA, has its main base at the airport which operates flights to a variety of countries in South, Central and North America. Tampa cargo has a ramp that can accommodate up to ten aircraft. All types of aircraft, including Boeing 747, Douglas DC-10, Boeing 767 are among the most common arrivals at the terminal. In addition, the terminal is near the customs area and Airline hangars Tampa Cargo.

The airport has three restaurants and a shopping area, where there are banks, ATMs, money exchange and car rentals. Also the airline Avianca has a VIP room inside the facilities serving domestic and international flights. Outside the main building with a parking lot with a capacity for 250 cars and an area for motorcycles. Long term parking is also provided. You can arrive to your final destinations in a variety of manners such as taxis which you can rent for yourself or share with other passengers, and busses known as collectivos.


In the background control tower and sculpture El Sol de Edgar Negret

Between 1930 and 1932, three wealthy families in the metropolitan area of Medellin, began with the idea of providing the city with an airport, as they were part of the Colombian Air Navigation Company which sought to carry passengers and mail from the city of Medellin to Puerto Berrio, then along the Magdalena River and ultimately connect the cities of Medellin and Bogotá. One of the most important was Gonzalo Mejia, who in a very colloquial decided what would be the only place where you could build an airport, this place was confirmed by the Curtiss Wright firm based in New York.

After several obstacles, the city of Medellín has finally accepted the construction of an unpaved runway about 974 m long. Soon many flights began arriving companies and Saco Scadta from the cities of Barranquilla and Bogotá. Finally the city understood the importance of air transport. Then in the 70s saw the need for a large airport for the province of Antioquia, due to saturation and the limitations of Olaya Herrera, two sites were defined to build a new airport in the vicinity of the municipality of Barbosa, and another in the valley of San Nicolas in Rionegro Eastern Antioquia, finally took place in Rionegro, its construction was executed signature CES-DARC-TAMS.

It was opened in 1985. In the same year it had tests of the Boeing 747 by Avianca, first in the original runway of Medellin's airport, the Olaya Herrera one, then in Rionegro's the José María Córdova of . During this time the airport had a lot of movement of cargo and passengers, as the operations from the Olaya Herrera airport declined to almost zero (both airports today have a lot of traffic, Olaya Herrera being the main airport for cargo and passengers in Medellin).

The airport is named Jose Maria Cordova, in honor of this character, besides being a native of Antioquia and the city where the airport was built (born in Rionegro),who held senior positions in the administration, and played important roles in the history of the nation.


Main building of José María Córdova Intl. Airport

In José María Córdova Airport anticipates the modernisation plan that includes various infrastructure projects, that will make this an airport terminal very attractive for tourists as for airlines.

Within the works, too modernisation passengers will find security systems, flight information via digital displays, high-tech communication, passenger arrival lounges with shopping, improving health services Airport, improvement in firefighting services, improving baggage handling systems. The objectives of the modernisation and expansion plan are: to ensure aviation safety and comfort of passengers and their companions; meet the requirements of ICAO - International Civil Aviation, the AEROCIVIL - Colombian Civil Aviation Authority, and IATA-International Air Transport Association. Finally, with the transformation of José María Córdova International Airport it also seeks to contribute to the country's competitiveness through: the creation of spaces that enable optimal connectivity with other cities in the world, the development of new areas that are attractive to airlines, the creation of zones that favour the encounter of citizens and, of course, compliance with new policies of quality for passengers to enjoy the best service at time of travel.

Busiest domestic routes (roundtrip) out of Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (Jan-Oct) (2012)
Rank City Passengers Top carriers
1 Bogotá, Colombia 2.254.968 Avianca, Copa Airlines Colombia, LAN Colombia, VivaColombia
2 Cartagena, Bolivar 330.541 Avianca, VivaColombia
3 Cali, Colombia 279.884 Avianca, VivaColombia
4 Barranquilla, Atlantico 175.573 Avianca, VivaColombia
5 San Andrés 125.444 Copa Airlines Colombia, VivaColombia
6 Santa Marta, Magdalena 64.229 Avianca, Vivacolombia
Busiest international routes (roundtrip) out of José María Córdova International Airport (Jan-Oct 2012)
Rank City Passengers  % Change
1 Panama, Panama 224.034 Increase23.87%
2 Miami, United States 157.292 Increase 0.26%
3 Fort Lauderdale, United States 69.590 Increase 15.77%
4 Madrid, Spain 38.060 Increase 6.54%
5 Quito, Ecuador 32.163 Increase 55.39%
6 Lima, Peru 31.508 Increase 99.42%
7 Caracas, Venezuela 29.707 Increase 37.20%
8 Willemstad, Curaçao 14.167 Increase 97.78%

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Currently in the terminal operates 25 destinations in total divided into 11 international and 12 domestic destinations regularly.

Airlines Destinations
Aeroméxico Mexico City (begins March 2, 2015)
Air Panama Panama-Albrook [1]
American Airlines Miami
Avianca Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Lima, Madrid, Miami, New York-JFK, Santa Marta, San Andrés Island, San Salvador
Seasonal: Punta Cana
Copa Airlines Panama City
Copa Airlines Colombia Bogotá, Panama City
Insel Air Curaçao
JetBlue Airways Fort Lauderdale[2]
LAN Colombia Bogotá
Seasonal: San Andrés Island
LAN Perú Lima, Quito
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale
Viva Colombia Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Monteria, San Andres Island, Santa Marta, Panama-Howard [3]

Cargo airlines[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On December 21, 1996, an Antonov 32B aircraft type, registration HK-4008X, airliner collided with the forest when it was on final approach to runway 36 of the airport. The aircraft took off from Bogota for its usual cargo flight to José María Córdova Airport with 6 tons of newspapers and other items. During the approach phase, the plane diverted three miles to the left of the glide slope, then turned sharply right, finally crashing more than five miles from the south end of the airport. The crash killed all four occupants of the aircraft.
  • On December 22, 1998, an Antonov 32B aircraft type, registration HK-3930X, airline airliner collided with the forest when it was on final approach to runway 36 of the airport. The aircraft took off from Bogota for a cargo flight to the airport in Rio Negro. The accident occurred at dawn and weather conditions were very bad for the dense fog that was present in the area. The accident killed the five occupants of the aircraft. A similar incident had occurred two years earlier, with a plane of the same company in similar circumstances.
  • On October 15, 2004, an aircraft type Douglas DC-3 belonging to the company Aerovanguardia Villavicencio took off at 6:30 am for a cargo flight to the airport José María Córdova. At 7:30 airport's air traffic controller informed the pilots that the airport was closed due to poor visibility caused by fog. The pilot of the aircraft, registration HK-1503, decided to fly the aircraft to the alternate Olaya Herrera Airport, but during the descend, the aircraft collided with a power cable and crashed in a wooded area of the town Santa Elena, west of Rionegro, killing all three occupants of the aircraft.
  • On June 7, 2006, a Tradewinds Airlines Boeing 747-200F (registration N922FT) had an engine failure on takeoff at José María Córdova International Airport. The pilot aborted but the plane overran the runway. None of the 6 on board were injured. The plane was substantially damaged. The event was captured on airport surveillance cameras- Watch Video Link to the accident report
  • On January 3, 2009 Flight 924 a Boeing 737-800 of American Airlines that had taken off from Jose Maria Cordova Airport towards ten o'clock had to make an emergency landing because it had fire in one of its engines. Upon landing the pilot was forced to use the brakes to the maximum because the airplane lost 50 percent of their engines, touching the runway braking system overheated and one of its tires exploded. Airport operations were closed for four hours. The plane was carrying 148 passengers who were uninjured in the emergency.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]