Olaya Herrera Airport

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Olaya Herrera Airport

Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera
2018 Entrada del Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera - Medellín.jpg
Airport typeCommercial
ServesMedellín, Colombia
Elevation AMSL4,921 ft / 1,500 m
Coordinates06°13′11″N 75°35′25″W / 6.21972°N 75.59028°W / 6.21972; -75.59028
EOH is located in Colombia
Location of airport in Colombia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 2,500 8,202 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passengers movement1.113.176
Source: Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste

Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera) (IATA: EOH, ICAO: SKMD) is an airport located in Medellín, Colombia, that serves regional and domestic flights. Additionally, the airport is used by general aviation and features several hangars for charters. Olaya Herrera is the second busiest airport in Colombia by number of flights.

Today, it is considered the main regional airport of the country due to the large number of scheduled and charter flights operated to and from the airport. It was formerly known as Medellin International Airport prior to the construction of José María Córdova International Airport in the nearby municipality of Rionegro, 19 kilometres (12 mi) east of Medellin. Between the two airports, there were more than 7.7 million passengers per year, which makes it the second busiest passenger city in Colombia after Bogotá.[1]

In 2016, the airport handled 831,181 passengers, and 848,525 in 2017.


Don Gonzalo Mejía (es) saw an opportunity for the development of an airport in Medellin given that the mountainous topography surrounding the city made land transport to and from the area difficult, and that the nearest airport was in Puerto Berrio.

He secured financing from wealthy businessmen of the time, chose the land where the airport sits today and overcame obstacles imposed by the local government. He formed the Uraba Medellin Central Airways and established it as a subsidiary of Pan American Airways[citation needed], which at the time had the prospect of becoming the dominant player in global aviation. The airport opened on July 5, 1932, and was named after the then president of Colombia, Enrique Olaya Herrera, who supported Mejía and his idea of an airport in Medellin.

In the 1940s the city was growing rapidly and new aircraft of the time required better facilities. Therefore, Gonzalo Mejía signed a contract in 1945 for the expansion of the runway and the existing facilities, a work that was completed on May 1, 1947.

In the 1970s, the airport was again over capacity and unable to meet demand, so the construction of new and larger José María Córdova International Airport in the nearby locality of Rionegro was announced. This resulted in the closure of Olaya Herrera Airport and the reallocation of its land to a park. Passengers, however, asked the airport not be closed, and on April 11, 1986, the airport reopened. In that same year, the airport saw some improvements as a result of the visit of Pope John Paul II to the city. It also inspired the name for the park which remained on the western portion of the airport grounds: the Aeroparque Juan Pablo II.[2] In 1992 Aerocivil ruled that the airport was to be used strictly for regional flights.

It was also one of the mainstays of carrier ACES from its beginnings to its demise in August 2003.

Today it is an airport with heavy use and constant growth (second in number of operations in Colombia) and was declared a national monument on October 19, 1995, for its historical, cultural, and architectural value for the city of Medellin and Colombia. In 2008, the national government gave the airport and five others in Colombia under concession to operating company Airplan,[3] which is conducting a series of renovations to the terminal (at the time of writing they are ongoing).

With an investment of more than US$27 million, Airplan began the transformation under the parameters defined in its concession contract with the Aeronáutuica Public Establecimeinto Olaya Herrera. The modernization plan began in March 2009 and ends in 2014.[4][5] Among the main objectives are to ensure aviation safety, passenger comfort, and meeting the requirements of ICAO, Aerocivil, and IATA. Olaya Herrera Airport operational spaces have Category B, according to IATA.[6]

Structure and capacity[edit]

Medellin sits in a mountain basin, and there is high and mountainous terrain in all quadrants. The runway paved length of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) includes displaced thresholds of 395 metres (1,296 ft) on Runway 02 and 305 metres (1,001 ft) on Runway 20.

The Marinilla VOR-DME (Ident: MRN) is located 16.1 nautical miles (30 km) east of Olaya Herrera Airport. The Rionegro VOR-DME (Ident: RNG) is located 17.7 nautical miles (33 km) southeast of the airport.[7][8]

Currently there are restrictions on the types of aircraft operating from the airport due to its classification as regional airport. Commercial flights can operate aircraft of up to 50 passengers, with the exception of Satena, which operates Embraer 170 aircraft carrying up to 76 passengers.

The passenger terminal has two waiting rooms off the main aircraft apron (which has a capacity of over 30 aircraft). It also has a shopping area with banking establishments, offices and shops, a food court, 11 double counters, airline check-in, a smoking room, and close connection with the Plaza Gardel.[9]

The airport has 111 hangars located south of the terminal, where the executive offices of several commercial, charter, and cargo airlines, as well as flight schools can also be found. Aires Airlines built a hangar on the north end of the airport in order to service aircraft and reaffirm their commitment to Medellin and the new base of operations at the airport[citation needed]. Flight schools Aviation Antioqueña Academy[10] and the Falcons School of Aviation, operate from the hangar area as well.

Along with five other airports, Olaya Herrera Airport was given in concession to private operator Airplan[11] to manage. The proposed works include a total refurbishment of the terminal, the construction of a cargo terminal, repairing the track platform, implementing new security systems, the expansion and refurbishment of waiting rooms and baggage claim belts, construction of a new control tower on the west side, construction of a business aviation terminal that will serve domestic and international flights of this type (with the intention of encouraging the return of international flights to the airport), new shopping areas, among others.

Aerolínea de Antioquia has its headquarters on the airport property and has six hangars to store and perform maintenance on their planes.[12] West Caribbean Airways, when it existed, had its corporate headquarters, operational center, and call center in Hangar 73 on the airport grounds.[13]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Aexpa Bahía Solano, Condoto, Nuquí, Quibdó
Avianca Express Bucaramanga, Montería, Quibdó
EasyFly Apartadó, Armenia, Bucaramanga, Corozal, Cúcuta, Ibague, Manizales, Montería, Pereira, Quibdó, Sincelejo
Satena Apartadó, Bahía Solano, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Quibdó, Tolú
Searca Capurganá
Seasonal: Condoto, Quibdó

Historical airlines and destinations[edit]

A list of services before the inauguration of José María Córdova International Airport in 1985.

Airlines Destinations
Aerocondor Colombia Bogotá, Cartagena, Pereira, San Andres Island, Cali
Aerotal Bogotá
ALM Antillean Airlines Curaçao
Avianca Barrancabermeja, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Caracas, Cartagena, Manizales, Miami, Montería, New York–JFK, Panama City, Pereira, San Andrés Island, Santa Marta
Copa Airlines Panama City
Intercontinental de Aviación Bogotá
Pan American World Airways Honda, Panama City, Turbo
SAM Colombia Barrancabermeja, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena
SAETA Guayaquil, Quito
SCADTA Ayapel, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cartago, Honda, Palanquero, Puerto Berrío

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 24 June 1935, internationally renowned Argentinian tango singer Carlos Gardel and 9 others were killed in a collision between two Ford Trimotor airplanes at the airport.[14]
  • On 1 March 1950, a C-47 (registration HK-507) operated by SAM crashed during approach to the airport after encountering adverse weather conditions. The aircraft was returning to the airport after a test flight following repairs to the left engine. During the approach, however, the airplane lost altitude due to severe weather and the left wing impacted a house causing the left engine to detach and the aircraft to plummet to the ground a few hundred meters short of the runway. The co-pilot and a mechanic on board the aircraft perished on impact.[15]
  • On 13 June 1951, a C-47 (registration HK-504) operated by SAM took off from the airport for a cargo flight to Cartagena but crashed minutes later while attempting to return to the airport after experiencing technical problems. The 2-man crew and one person on the ground perished in the incident.[16]
  • On 31 March 1991, a Vickers Viscount (registration HK-1708) of Intercontinental de Aviación made an emergency landing at the airport after experiencing an instrument failure during a cargo flight from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota to Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport on the Caribbean island of San Andrés. While cruising at 16,000 feet (4,900 m) both artificial horizons failed during turbulence and control of the aircraft was only regained at 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Inspection after landing revealed structural damage beyond economic repair, probably caused by a gear collapse suffered previously on 14 February 1988.[17]
  • On 30 November 1996, ACES flight 148 bound to Bahía Solano with a stopover in Quibdó (Chocó) stalled and crashed into a mountain after takeoff. Of the 15 people on board, 14 died in the crash. The cause of the stall and the subsequent crash was found to be the aircraft being overloaded.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ASUR Announces Total Passenger Traffic for December 201" (PDF). Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste. January 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  2. ^ "Aeroparque Juan Pablo II". Aeroparque Juan Pablo. Govt of Colombia. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ Gallo Machado, Gustavo (24 June 2008). "Airplan llega al Olaya" [Airplan arrives at Olaya]. El Colombiano (in Spanish). Medellin. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  4. ^ Medellin Herald - Airport modernization
  5. ^ Scandia Consultants - Herrera Airport modernization
  6. ^ "IATA Levels of Service codes". Research Gate. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Marinilla VOR". Our Airports. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Rionegro VOR". Our Airports. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Plaza Gardel". Olaya Herrera Airport. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Academia Antioqueña de Aviación". aviacion.edu.co. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Airplan airport operations". Airplan. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Contáctenos Archived 2012-06-06 at the Wayback Machine." Aerolínea de Antioquia. Retrieved on January 26, 2011. "www.ada-aero.com Aeropuerto Olaya Herrera Medellín-Colombia "
  13. ^ "PREGUNTAS FRECUENTES WEST CARIBBEAN AIRWAYS." West Caribbean Airways. August 11, 2003. Retrieved on January 26, 2011. "6. ¿Dónde quedan ubicadas las oficinas de West Caribbean Airways? Las oficinas principales, es decir, la sede administrativa, operaciones, el área comercial y el call center están ubicados en el hangar 73 del aeroparque Olaya Herrera."
  14. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Ford 5-AT-D Tri-Motor C-31 Medellín-Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH)". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  15. ^ "GRAVISIMO ACCIDENTE SUFRIO UN AVION DE SAM AYER EN MEDELLIN" [An aircraft from SAM suffered very serious accident yesterday in Medellin]. El Tiempo (in Spanish) (13823). 2 March 1950. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Cayó ayer cerca de Medellín un avión de carga" [A cargo plane crashed yesterday close to Medellin]. El Tiempo (in Spanish) (14278). 14 June 1951. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  18. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 HK-2602 Medellín". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  19. ^ "HK-1504 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  20. ^ "PNC-0211 Hull-loss description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Ocho heridos deja el estallido accidental de una granada en un avión policial en Colombia" [Eight wounded after accidental explosion of a granade in colombian Police aircraft] (in Spanish). Ultima Hora. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2010.

External links[edit]

Media related to Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport at Wikimedia Commons