Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport

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Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport
Terminal Aeropuerto Pudahuel.jpg


SCL is located in Chile
Location of airport in Chile
Airport type Public and Military
Operator Nuevo Pudahuel
Serves Santiago
Location Pudahuel, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 474 m / 1,555 ft
Coordinates 33°23′34″S 70°47′08″W / 33.39278°S 70.78556°W / -33.39278; -70.78556Coordinates: 33°23′34″S 70°47′08″W / 33.39278°S 70.78556°W / -33.39278; -70.78556
Website [3]
Direction Length Surface
m ft
17R/35L 3,800 12,467 Asphalt
17L/35R 3,748 12,298 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passenger Numbers 17.251.406
Passenger Statistics from Junta de Aeronautica Civil de Chile[citation needed]

Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez) (IATA: SCLICAO: SCEL), also known as Santiago International Airport and Pudahuel Airport, located in Pudahuel, 15 km (9.3 mi) north-west of downtown Santiago, is Chile's largest aviation facility and the busiest international air passenger gateway to the country.

Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport has domestic and international services to destinations in Europe, Oceania and the Americas. In 2011 it was the ninth busiest airport in Latin America and the sixth busiest in South America by passenger traffic. It was the seventh busiest airport in Latin America by aircraft movements, serving 124,799 operations.[1] Its location in Chile's most populated area, as well as in the central part of the country makes of it an ideal main hub and maintenance center for most local airlines such as LAN Airlines and Sky Airline. LAN Airlines accounts for approximately 82% of the total airport commercial operations.[2]

The airport is owned by the Chilean State and has been operated since October 2015 by Nuevo Pudahuel, a consortium of companies formed by Aéroports de Paris (France), Vinci (France) and Astaldi (Italy). The Air traffic control is handled by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (Chile).

Its ICAO category is 4E. The airport functions as a joint civil-military facility. It is the headquarters of the Chilean Air Force 2nd Air Brigade and where its 10th Aviation Group is based.

The airport is also South America's main gateway to Australia and New Zealand.


Early years[edit]

The demands of the growing metropolitan area of Santiago and the need for modern, jet-era airport facilities, which could safely accommodate both domestic and intercontinental flights, drove the need to relocate the Chilean capital's principal airport from Los Cerrillos Airport (ICAO: SCTI; IATA: ULC) in the denser southwest metropolitan region of Santiago to the more rural northwest metropolitan area.

Check-in Hall (2007)

Construction of the original terminal building, the eastern runway (17L/35R), control tower, east apron and cargo facilities commenced in 1961. On February 2, 1967, the airport was commissioned Aeropuerto Internacional de Pudahuel, due to its location in the municipality of Pudahuel. On March 19, 1980, the airport was rechristened Air Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in honour of the founder of the Chilean Air Force and Chilean carrier LAN Airlines.

Passenger terminal[edit]

The facility was expanded in 1994 with a new international terminal that covers 90,000 square meters, inspired by the architecture of Marseille Provence Airport, France. The building is located between the two parallel runways. This expansion added a new control tower, jetways, a duty-free zone, hotel, and greater parking area. The old terminal was used for domestic flights until 2001, when all passenger operations were merged into the same building. In the following years, minor expansions have taken place, such as the inclusion of additional jetways.

The terminal building has four levels. The airport services are distributed in the following way:

  • Ground floor: arrivals, Duty Free Shop, baggage claim, Customs and Border Control, Transport Services, parking areas, Holiday Inn Hotel access.
  • First floor: Administrative offices, VIP lounges (Access through the second floor).
  • Second Floor: Departures, Check-in areas, Border Control Police, Duty Free Shops, Restaurants, boarding halls and gates.
  • Third Floor: Restaurants, VIP Check-in areas (LAN).

The terminal building hosts the following services: Bank office (a branch of Banco Santander), Chilean Automobile Club, Telecommunication Companies (Claro, Movistar and Entel PCS), Pharmacy, Travel Agencies, Insurance (Mapfre, AIG-Interamericana), Police Station (Carabineros de Chile).

In 2000, Lan Chile joined Oneworld, making of Arturo Merino Benitez Airport a main hub for the alliance, its first one in Latin America and its second in the Southern Hemisphere (after Qantas' Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport in Australia). As of April 2014, 71% of international and 75% of domestic passengers were carried by Oneworld member airlines.

During the 2010 Chile earthquake, the passenger terminal building suffered internal damages and the collapse of a pedestrian bridge between the vehicle ramp and the departures area. Nevertheless, both runways and control tower were unharmed, allowing the realization of a massive humanitarian air-bridge held by the Chilean Air Force to Concepción, Chile (Carriel Sur International Airport), close to the most damaged area by this earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The airport authority had closed off all commercial flight operations after around 1200 UTC on February 27, resuming full operations on March 3, 2010.[3][4]

In 2011, IATA recognized the DGAC (Chile’s provider of air navigation services) and SCL (Santiago Airport) with the Exceptional Recognition Award to the cooperative efforts of SCL and DGAC Chile that facilitated a quick recovery from the devastation that followed the Chilean earthquake on 27 February 2010. "Both airport and air navigation services were restored quickly with no impact on rates or charges for passengers or airlines. DGAC Chile and SCL are widely regarded as leaders in Latin America for efficiency, quality, and customer focus.[5]

In June 2011, Santiago International Airport received the Air Cargo Excellence Award, as the best Latin American Cargo Airport.[6]

Santiago International Airport is the longest non-stop destination for Iberia and Air France flights departing from their respective hubs in Madrid-Barajas Airport and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The Sydney–Santiago non-stop flight operated by Qantas on a Boeing 747-400ER covers the world's longest over-the-sea distance flown by a commercial airline.

Second runway[edit]

Construction on Runway 17R/35L began in 2004 and opened to traffic in September 2005. However, within months defects were discovered and the runway required repairing, completed in January 2006. Unfortunately further study of the problem discovered that the initial repairs were insufficient, needing additional work. Finally, 17R/35L reopened for traffic in March 2007.

2014 expansion[edit]

In 2008, the airport terminal reached its maximum design capacity of 9.5 million annual passengers, two years earlier than forecast, and with the repairs needed after the 2010 Chile earthquake, the Ministry of Public Works announced in 2012 that it would call for proposals for the expansion and administration of the airport, two years prior to the end of the contract with the current operator.

The ministry decided to investigate a new airport master plan instead of an expansion of the single passenger terminal building, as initially proposed by the current operator. The feasibility studies for this master plan cost 4,560 million Chilean Pesos (USD 9.4 million) considered in the 2011 Fiscal Budget. For this new master plan, the Government hired the consultancy services of Aéroports de Paris Ingeniérie (ADP-I), the architecture, engineering and technical branch of the French airport corporation.[7]

The expansion took into account a capacity growth to 14 million annual passengers by 2014, 34 million by year 2034 and 50 million passengers by 2045. The plan considered new detached passenger terminal buildings for international and domestic flights, additional commercial areas and the construction of a light railway connecting the airport with the Santiago Metro network.[8]

In June 2013, the Chilean Ministry of Public Works started Phase 1 of the airport expansion.[9]

On February 4, 2015, the consortium "Nuevo Pudahuel", formed by French companies Aéroports de Paris (45%), Vinci Airports (40%) and Italian infrastructure company Astaldi (15%) won the bidding process to manage and develop the airport for 20 years since October 1, 2015. The main missions of the new administration will be "the renovation of existing installations with the redesign and extension of the current terminal; the funding, design and construction of a new 175,000 sq m terminal which will increase the airport's capacity to 30 million passengers, with potential for expansion beyond 45 million; the operation and commercial development for the duration of the concession (20 years) of the main infrastructures: existing terminal and new terminals, car parks and future property developments. Building works will be executed by Astaldi (50% of conception-construction pool) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets (50%)".[10]


View of the Domestic Terminal
SCL's Domestic Terminal


  • Holiday Inn Hotels finished in July 2007 the construction of a five-floor building, internally connected to both terminals (international and domestic), with private parking slots and special services for passengers and guests. The hotel has 112 rooms, restaurants, bars, room-service, a conference hall for 170 people, gym, covered swimming pool, spa and wi-fi internet access.
  • Hotel Diego de Almagro is located 2 km outside the airport area.
  • The Hilton Garden Inn Santiago Airport Hotel is located only 2.8 km from the Santiago international airport within the ENEA, one of the largest business complex in Santiago de Chile which hosts offices, big companies and entertainment. Complimentary shuttle service from the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International airport (in and out) is provided by Trans VIP. The hotel has 144 rooms, a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, sauna, 7 meeting spaces including a ballroom with capacity for up to 230 people, 24-hour business center and wireless room internet access. The hotel is close to a golf course and the Arauco Maipu Mall.


The Santiago International Airport has four tax-free shops that offer a wide range of products to supply any need customers may have. They are handled by the Spanish duty-free operator Aldeasa. One of them is located just after the police border control at departures, while another one is located before the baggage claim area.[11]

Souvenirs, jewelry, Chilean handcrafts and wine shops, music and accessories among others, are available in more than 70 stores from well-known international and national brands.


Santiago Airport has 21 well-known restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, located in the public area and in the national and international departing lounges. International franchises include Starbucks Coffee (both terminals), Ruby Tuesday (International terminal), Boost & Juice, Caffriccio and Dunkin' Donuts.

VIP lounges[edit]

In the International terminal, the operators are:

  • LAN Airlines & TAM Airlines Lounge: Located on 4th & 5th floor. Access after passport control. Access for LAN & TAM Business Class travellers, LANPASS Premium Silver, Comodoro & Black frequent flyers, TAM Fidelidade Red, Red Plus and Black members, as well as Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald tier status members.
  • American Airlines Admirals Club: Located next to boarding gate 19. O Access for Admirals Club members, AAdvantage Platinum & Executive Platinum elite frequent flyers, AA International Premium Class, Oneworld First and Business Class passengers, as well as Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald tier status members.
  • Delta Air Lines Sky Club: Located next to boarding gate 17. Access for Delta Sky Club Members, Delta's passengers travelling in the Delta One cabin or on SkyTeam alliance Premium cabin, and SkyTeam Elite Plus tier status members.
  • Avianca Sala VIP: Located by gate 12B (one floor below departures level).
  • Pacific Club (Priority Pass)

Military functions[edit]

The airport is the headquarters of the Chilean Air Force II Air Brigade and hosts the 10th Aviation Group facilities. The 10th Aviation Group is in charge of Strategic Air Transportation, the Airborne Early Warning & Control Squadron, medical air transport emergencies and the air transportation of the President of Chile. Some of its units are C-130 Hercules, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 737 Classic, Gulfstream IV, CASA C-212 Aviocar, F-16 Fighting Falcon, AEW&C Condor. The FIDAE, Latin America's most important air show takes place in the 10th Aviation Group facilities.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Terminal
AeroDesierto Calama, La Serena Domestic
Aerolíneas Argentinas
operated by Austral Líneas Aéreas
Buenos Aires–Aeroparque, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza International
Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires–Aeroparque International
Aeroméxico Mexico City International
Air Canada Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Toronto–Pearson International
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle International
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino (resumes 1 May 2016)[12] International
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami International
Avianca Bogotá International
Avianca Costa Rica Lima International
Copa Airlines Panama City International
Delta Air Lines Atlanta International
Gol Transportes Aéreos São Paulo–Guarulhos
Seasonal: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão
Iberia Madrid International
KLM Amsterdam, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza International
LAN Airlines Auckland, Bogotá, Buenos Aires–Aeroparque, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cancún, Caracas, Córdoba, Frankfurt, Guayaquil, La Paz, Lima, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mendoza, Mexico City, Miami, Milan-Malpensa, Montevideo, New York–JFK, Papeete, Punta Cana, Quito, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Santa Cruz de la Sierra–Viru Viru, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Stanley–Mount Pleasant, Sydney
Seasonal: Florianópolis, Orlando, Punta Del Este, Salta
LAN Airlines Antofagasta, Arica, Balmaceda/Coyhaique, Calama, Castro, Concepción, Copiapó, Easter Island, Iquique, La Serena, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Temuco, Valdivia Domestic
LAN Argentina Buenos Aires–Ezeiza International
LAN Ecuador Guayaquil, Quito International
LAN Perú Lima International
Latin American Wings
operated by Chilejet
Punta Cana International
Qantas Sydney International
Sky Airline Antofagasta, Arica, Balmaceda, Calama, Concepción, Copiapó, El Salvador, Iquique, La Serena, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Temuco, Valdivia Domestic
Sky Airline Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Lima, São Paulo–Guarulhos (ends 29 February 2016)
Seasonal: Florianópolis
TAM Airlines Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, São Paulo–Guarulhos International
TAM Paraguay Asunción International
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental International


Airlines Destinations
Atlas Air Miami
Avianca Cargo Bogotá
Cargolux Aguadilla, Luxemburg
Centurion Air Cargo Miami
China Cargo Airlines Los Angeles
LAN Cargo Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Campinas Viracopos, Miami
Martinair Cargo Aguadilla, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Guayaquil, Miami, Quito
UPS Airlines Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Campinas Viracopos


Santiago domestic nonstop routes (as of July 2015).
Santiago international nonstop routes (as of July 2015).
Busiest international routes (2015)[13]
Rank City Passengers Airlines
1 Buenos Aires, Argentina (Ezeiza and Aeroparque Airports) 1,482,397 Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, LAN Argentina, LAN Airlines, Sky Airline, KLM
2 São Paulo–Guarulhos, Brazil 1,186,444 LAN Airlines, TAM Airlines, Sky Airline, GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes
3 Lima, Peru 1,108,346 Lasca, LAN Airlines, LAN Perú, Sky Airline, TACA Perú
4 Bogotá, Colombia 475,786 Avianca, LAN Airlines
5 Miami, FL, USA 462,729 American Airlines, LAN Airlines
6 Panama City, Panama 411,198 Copa Airlines
7 Madrid, Spain 382,366 Iberia, LAN Airlines
8 Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Brazil 300,572 LAN Airlines, TAM Airlines
9 Mendoza, Argentina 236,039 LAN Airlines
10 Mexico City, Mexico 218,648 AeroMéxico, LAN Airlines
11 Montevideo, Uruguay 215,211 LAN Airlines
12 Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France 209,192 Air France
13 Sydney, Australia 181,214 Qantas, LAN Airlines
14 New York-JFK, NY, USA 177,502 LAN Airlines
15 Córdoba, Argentina 133,857 LAN Airlines
16 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, USA 127,886 American Airlines
17 Atlanta, GA, USA 125,194 Delta Air Lines
18 Houston, TX, USA 107,761 United Airlines
19 Auckland, New Zealand 93,173 LAN Airlines
20 Guayaquil, Ecuador 87,216 LAN Ecuador, LAN Airlines
21 Toronto-Pearson, Canada 69,498 Air Canada
22 Los Angeles, CA, USA 60,636 LAN Airlines
23 La Paz, Bolivia 60,352 LAN Airlines
24 Asuncion, Paraguay 45,082 LAN Airlines
25 Santa Cruz de la Sierra–Viru Viru 30,984 LAN Airlines
Busiest domestic routes [2015][13]
Rank City Passengers Airlines
1 Antofagasta, Chile Antofagasta 1,708,242 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline, Aerovías DAP
2 Antofagasta, Chile Calama 1,315,248 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
3 Tarapaca, Chile Iquique 963,976 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
4 Biobío, Chile Concepción 894,157 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
5 Los Lagos, Chile Puerto Montt 865,569 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
6 Araucanía, Chile Temuco 575,213 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
7 Magallanes, Chile Punta Arenas 561,751 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline, Aerovías DAP
8 Coquimbo, Chile La Serena 555,042 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
9 Arica, Chile Arica 525,963 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
10 Atacama, Chile Copiapó 425,566 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
11 Aisén, Chile Balmaceda 230,145 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
12 Valparaíso, Chile Easter Island 188,991 LAN Airlines
13 Los Ríos, Chile Valdivia 122,153 LAN Airlines, Sky Airline
14 Los Lagos, Chile Osorno 59,327 LAN Airlines
15 Los Lagos, Chile Castro 52,917 LAN Airlines

Ground transportation[edit]


Costanera Norte Expressway

Arturo Merino Benitez is about 17 kilometres (11 mi) by car from Santiago's city centre. The airport is well served by the 6-lane expressway Costanera Norte (Exit # 31), which crosses through the city from West to East bordering the Mapocho river, while it is also well connected to the West, North and North-East of Santiago by the Vespucio Norte Express Ring motorway (Exit # 18).

Taxi and shuttle services[edit]

There are 2 official airport taxi services: Taxi Oficial and Taxi Vip, which can be contacted at their desks after the Baggage claim area. TransVip shuttle services reach most of Santiago's hotels, business and residential districts. The average cost for shuttle services is USD$15.


Buses at the Departures Level

Centropuerto buses connect the Airport with Los Héroes station of Santiago Metro. Their frequency is every 10 minutes during weekdays and 15 minutes during weekends.

Rental services[edit]

Car rental services are available from the airport, with a typical cost goes from $80 per day, depending on the range and the city where the drop-off will take place.[14]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

No airline disasters have occurred at the site. However 3 flights with final destination SCL crashed en route:

  • On April 28, 1969 LAN Chile Flight 160, a Boeing 727 arriving from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ministro Pistarini International Airport, crashed short of runway, 24 km North of Colina, Chile (50 km. North of Arturo Merino Benítez Airport). None of the 60 passengers and crew were injured in the accident, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On October 13, 1972 a Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 chartered by a Uruguayan rugby team crashed into the Chilean Andes while en route to SCL. Of the 40 passengers and 5 crew members, 16 were found alive 72 days after the accident.
  • On July 4, 1973, an Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 737-200 registration LV-JTO, with 77 passengers on board, departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was hijacked soon after takeoff by a member of the ERP (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo - In English: People's Revolutionary Army). The aircraft was forced to land at Mendoza's El Plumerillo International Airport and then flew subsequently to Santiago, where 49 passengers were freed. The flight continued to Lima, Perú, where another six hostages were released. The aircraft finally landed in Havana, Cuba, where the hijacker asked for political asylum.
  • On October 2, 1996, AeroPeru Flight 603, a Boeing 757 flying the Miami-Lima-Santiago route crashed into the Pacific Ocean some minutes after its take off from Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport, killing all on board. The cause of the accident was a maintenance worker's failure to remove tape covering the static ports necessary to provide correct instrument data to the cockpit while flying.
  • On September 2, 2011, a Chilean Air Force CASA C-212 Aviocar with 18 passengers and 3 crew members took off from Arturo Merino Benitez Airport and crashed into the sea off Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile, killing all on board. The aircraft was operating a relief flight in support of operations in the wake of the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami. Notable members of Televisión Nacional de Chile (National Broadcasting of Chile) such as presenter Felipe Camiroaga, journalist Roberto Bruce and philanthropist Felipe Cubillos died in the accident.
  • On August 13, 2014 at 06:20 local time, eight masked gunmen dressed as ground personnel robbed a security van at the cargo area of the airport, stealing 6 billion Chilean pesos (USD 10.6 Million) in cash that was being transported by plane to banks in the Northern Chile. This robbery was the largest theft of cash in Chilean history.[15]


  1. ^ Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil. DGAC (2013-07-15). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  2. ^ AEROPUERTO INTERNACIONAL DE SANTIAGO - SCL Aeropuerto de Santiago de Chile. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  3. ^ "Reuters earthquake report". Reuters. February 27, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ (French) Business Travel, "Aéroport de Santiago au Chili: retour à la normale mercredi", 2 March 2010 (accessed 3 March 2010)
  5. ^ Announces Eagle Awards. IATA. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  6. ^ Air Cargo Excellence / Home. Air Cargo World. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  7. ^ Portal de Registro y Autentificación El Mercurio. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  8. ^ Portal de Registro y Autentificación El Mercurio. Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  9. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 2013-11-18.
  10. ^ "VINCI : Aeroports de Paris, VINCI Airports and Astaldi presented the best offer for the Santiago de Chile International Airport concession". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Shopping and services". Aeropuerto de Santiago. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b [2] Archived September 17, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "LetsGoChile >  » Car Rental in Chile". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "Chile fires airport security chief after huge robbery". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport at Wikimedia Commons