Rafael Hernández Airport
|Rafael Hernández Airport|
|IATA: BQN – ICAO: TJBQ – FAA LID: BQN|
|Owner||Puerto Rico Ports Authority|
|Serves||Aguadilla, Puerto Rico|
|Location||Aguadilla, Puerto Rico|
|Elevation AMSL||237 ft / 72 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration
Operations from the FAA
Passengers from the Puerto Rico Ports Authority
Rafael Hernández Airport (IATA: BQN, ICAO: TJBQ, FAA LID: BQN) is an airport located in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. It is named after the Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández Marín. The airport is the second international airport in Puerto Rico in the region of Porta del Sol, Puerto Rico's west coast.
In the past, the airport has been served by major carriers like Capitol Air, Pan Am, Kiwi International Air Lines, TWA, American Airlines, Delta Connection, to mention a few. Taesa flew in 1996 from Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Mostly due to little planning, research or advertising, some of these services have been suspended. Other services have been discontinued as part of the airlines restructuring plan, or as a result of airlines going out of business.
The airport has been long associated with the adjacent military base, Ramey Air Force Base. It used to receive domestic commercial flights by Prinair as well as service from JFK International Airport in New York City with Capitol Air, and 707 passenger flights from Miami with Southeast Airlines. It is also noted for being the place that large clothing company Wrangler uses to land their planes filled with company-related cargo.
In 1988, Rafael Hernández Airport started to surface as an alternative to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, when Carnival Air Lines and ATA began jet services there. In the 1990s, American Airlines joined those two airlines. Later on, Pan Am (2) and TWA also came.
Prinair suffered various accidents and ceased operations.
In 2000, North American Airlines re-opened passenger service with a non-stop flight to New York-JFK three times a week. Later on Continental Airlines joined North American with a daily flight to their hub in Newark. The evident success of service from the Aguadilla, caught the attention of Boston-Maine Airways that opened a route to Orlando-Sanford and Santo Domingo.
In 2004, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority announced that it would be remodelling and expanding BQN to accommodate more flights and passengers. An expansion of the terminal building and a new parking lot were among the projects in mind. The expansion was inaugurated on July 12, 2005.
In 2005, continuous passenger traffic growth caught the attention of Jet Blue Airways, which opened a daily flight to their hub in New York. Soon after the arrival of JetBlue to the airport, North American ceased operations at the airport. Soon after, JetBlue announced that it will be adding a second daily flight to New York-JFK.
In December 2006, thousands of people gathered at the airport to welcome Carlos "El Indio" Quintana.
In 2006, Delta Connection began regional jet service to Atlanta, Georgia five times a week. The service ended on January 20, 2007 as part of Delta's restructuring plan. Later on 2007 JetBlue Airways began service to Orlando.
In the summer of 2007 Spirit Airlines announced plans to begin service from the airport to their hub in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a flight five times a week during the summer. The success of the service resulted in Spirit offering 2 daily flights. Service frequency was lowered to a flight 5 times a week instead of the expected end of service at the end of the summer.
On July 5, 2007, the newly renovated control tower directed its first aircraft.
Due to the success of service, Spirit Airlines has increased their frequency to daily to/from Ft. Lauderdale. In addition, Spirit added a daily non-stop service to Orlando on February. JetBlue will also continue to have two daily flights to New York-JFK after the Holiday Season. Also, starting May 1, JetBlue will be adding a second daily flight to/from Orlando.
On June 2, 2008, Pan Am World Airways Dominicana restored service between the Airport and Santo Domingo-Las Americas as well as to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. These are two of the routes that is evidently under-served due to high demand and proximity of Aguadilla to the neighboring island.
On May 24, 2008, local leaders gathered at the airport to meet Democratic presidential candidate Hillary R. Clinton.
The capacity of the airport and its role as the main gateway to Porta del Sol, the airport is considered extremely undeserved, something that has caused indignation in the region, which accounts for one third of the Puerto Rico's total population, and the mayor of the city on a number of occasions to ask for the airport to be transferred to the city.
In late January 2011, the airport hosted sea level tests for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
On February 20, 2012, It has been announced by both the city of Aguadilla Major and the Secretary of commerce that the Airport will be designated a "free zone" as many other airports in the U.S., a move believed to improve the development of the airport and surrounding areas.
The Ahrens Aircraft Corporation was about to set up operations at Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla to manufacture the Ahrens AR 404 airliner, with money promised by the Puerto Rican government for development, but a United States government investigation prevented the money from getting to the company, and the project was cancelled after only two AR 404's were built at Rafael Hernandez Airport.
For year 2007 the airport transported 400,473 passengers, nearly a 500% increase in five years. Rafael Hernández Airport has an average of 51 regular passengers flights per week.
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|1||New York, NY||John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)||82,960|
|2||Orlando, FL||Orlando International Airport (MCO)||59,760|
|3||Newark, NJ||Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)||39,870|
|4||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL)||28,590|
Rafael Hernández Airport covers anairport, the runway was built in 1940 as part of the Borinquen Field Army Air Corps Base. In 1948 The base was renamed Ramey Air Force Base complex. Ramey was home to the Strategic Air Command and housed a number of B-36, B-47 and B-52s. Due to the size of the B-36 the runway at Ramey had to be built to a length of 11,702 ft and a width of 200 ft, added a 870 ft Blast Pad at each end and a 50 ft shoulder on each side.
The North side of the airport constitutes a passenger terminal with an international side capable of handling flights of over 200 passengers. It also hosts the Main Cargo Terminal, the FedEx Terminal, and the General Aviation Terminal. The North side also houses the Copeca Jet Center Executive Terminal, as well as five service hangars. The military side of the airport is also located on the North side, housing the Air Station Borinquen, a United States Coast Guard facility.
The South side of the airport is the largest portion of the airport, but is currently undeveloped. Since the airport was transferred to Puerto Rico Port Authority in 1973, the South side has been object of disputes and political campaign. Since then promises have been abundant, yet more than three decades later, the South side is still undeveloped. Under the administration of Sila M. Calderón and Aníbal Acevedo Vilá a master plan was conceived to turn the South side into a cargo hub for the Caribbean. Local residents object to the use of the South side for Cargo rather than a modern passenger terminal.
The passenger terminal was recently upgraded to include air conditioning, more space for modern airline ticket counters and car rental counters. It constitutes two "gates" gate 14 and 15. Gate 15 is use for departures, while Gate 14 is use for arrivals. The terminal is divided into two sections, the domestic and the international sides. The domestic side is equipped with a United States Department of Agriculture facility, while the international side constitutes a United States Customs capable of handling up to 200 passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a master plan to redevelop the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla that will involve an investment of $1 billion over the next 20 years. PRPA plans call for the redevelopment of the Aguadilla airport on a scale that will rival LMM. The Aguadilla airport currently has two commercial passenger gates. The master plan calls for a total of 30 commercial passenger gates, 12 shy of the 42 commercial passenger gates that currently exist at LMM.
There are plans to expand the road that give access to the airport.
Martinair is expanding its air-cargo operations to Aguadilla Airport. The expansion to Aguadilla will facilitate more flights (up to 12 a week by 2010) to and from the island and serve as a value-added cold-chain hub for the transport of flowers and produce from South America for consumption in Puerto Rico, the mainland U.S., Europe and other parts of the world.
Passenger airlines and destinations
In the past American Airlines offered service to their hub in Miami from Rafael Hernandez Airport. Miami, as well as other popular routes, currently lacks service from the airport. These markets include but are not limited to Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford, and Baltimore. These cities are home to some of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the United States, many of whom have ties to Aguadilla and the surrounding region.
|JetBlue Airways||New York-JFK, Orlando|
|Spirit Airlines||Fort Lauderdale|
JetBlue is studying expansion for the 3 main airports in Puerto Rico for 2011. Plans are underway to add service to Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa from the airport.
Seaborne Airlines studies Aguadilla-San Juan service. Service will be from Aguadilla to San Juan Isla Grande Airport.
The cargo section of the airport is divided in two sections, the Main Terminal and the FedEx Terminal. The FedEx Terminal is home to FedEx and its local affiliates. Talks are currently going for FedEx to increase their operations at Rafael Hernandez Airport and turn Aguadilla in a hub and distribution center for the Caribbean. The remaining Cargo Carriers are located in the Main Terminal.
The airport can be accessed via two highways from PR-2.
- Mayagüez and Points south including downtown Aguadilla, Rincon, and Cabo Rojo are connected to the airport via PR-107.
Accidents and incidents
- On April 26, 1991, Douglas DC-3C N136FS of Four Star Air Cargo was destroyed when a fire broke out in the cockpit whilst the aircraft was taxiing for take-off on a mail flight to Cyril E. King Airport, Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands.
- On February 3, 1992, a C-54 of Dominican airline Aerolineas Mundo-AMSA had a runway collision with a Lockheed Super Constellation, suffering a fire and being damaged beyond repair.
- FAA Airport Master Record for BQN ( PDF), retrieved March 15, 2007
- Air Traffic Activity System
- Passenger Movement Through Regional Airports 2001–2006 Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- Passenger Movement Through Regional Airports 2002–2007 Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- Rafael Hernández Airport – Passenger Traffic 2008–2009 Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- Rafael Hernández Airport – Passenger Traffic Jan–Jun 2010 Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- Rafael Hernández Airport – Passenger Traffic Jul–Dec 2010 Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- "Aguadilla, PR: Rafael Hernández (BQN)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. December 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
- "Partnering with private sector for major projects". www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- "Seaborne con aires de expansión". www.vocero.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "FedEx looks to make Aguadilla airport Caribbean distribution hub". www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- "N136FS Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
- Hradecky, Simon (April 27, 2009). "Accident: Four Star Cargo DC3 at San Juan on Apr 26th 2009, cockpit burned off airframe". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
- Resources for this airport: