José María Córdova International Airport

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José María Córdova International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional José María Córdova
2018 aeropuerto internacional José María Córdova, vista aérea.jpg
Airport typeCommercial
OperatorGrupo Aeroportuario del Sureste
ServesMedellín Metropolitan Area
Hub forAvianca Cargo and Viva Colombia
Elevation AMSL7,027 ft / 2,142 m
Coordinates06°10′02″N 75°25′36″W / 6.16722°N 75.42667°W / 6.16722; -75.42667
WebsiteOfficial Web
MDE is located in Antioquia Department
MDE is located in Colombia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 3,557 11,670 Asphalt
Statistics (2020)
Total Passengers3,071,996
Source: Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste[1]

José María Córdova International Airport (IATA: MDE, ICAO: SKRG) is the second largest airport in Colombia after El Dorado International Airport of Bogotá in terms of infrastructure and passenger service. It is located in the city of Rionegro, 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of Medellín.

It is the most important airport in the Antioquia Department, and in terms of infrastructure, it is the most important in western Colombia. It's also the main hub for low-cost airline Viva Colombia. It serves several international destinations, one of the busiest being the route to Miami International Airport. It also serves the most flown route within Colombia: Rionegro-Bogota, which is mainly operated by Avianca, Viva Colombia and LATAM Colombia. In recent years, significant technology and infrastructure upgrades (like LCD screen signage) have been made, making it one of the most recognized airports in Colombia. It now has service to destinations in Europe and has added new destinations in South and Central America, and in the Caribbean.

International destinations include the United States, Panama, El Salvador, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Dominican Republic 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 exports (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 Olaya Herrera Airport, located in the center of Medellín, was closed during this time. When it reopened, traffic reduced. Since 1993, however, there has been a steady increase in traffic as well as an increase in the number of airlines flying into the airport, including American Airlines, LATAM, TACA, Aerogal. As for cargo airlines, Martinair, Centurion Air Cargo, ABSA, and Florida West International Airways and national freight airlines such as Avianca Cargo, LANCO, AeroSucre have increased their flights to the terminal. The airport is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation.


Terminal view
Control tower
Terminal interior

The suburban, large airport serves all major international and domestic routes, in contrast to the in-town, yet much smaller Olaya Herrera Airport, which serves the Medellín area with domestic flights only. José María Córdova is set for a major expansion that will include new international terminals and an expansion of the cargo terminal. This is set to start next year[when?] according to the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics. The airport is named after José María Córdova (sometimes spelled "Córdoba"), a Colombian army general who was a native of Ríonegro.

José María Córdova International Airport is the second in Colombia in total passenger and cargo also in international and national after the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá. 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, and ILS, which allow greater ease of operation for pilots making navigation and landings safer in bad weather.[2][3][4]

In January 2006, an Airbus A380 landed at the air terminal (first time on Colombian soil) to conduct technical tests of the engines.

Antioquia's exports, mostly flowers and other products from the region, depart en route to international destinations from these terminals. The cargo operator Avianca Cargo has its main base at the airport, and operates flights to countries in South, Central and North America. Avianca 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.

The airport has three restaurants and a shopping area, where there are banks, ATM's, money exchange, and car rentals. Avianca also has a VIP room inside the facility serving domestic and international flights. There is also a VIP airport lounge "The Lounge Medellin"[5] operated by Global Lounge Network.[6] Outside the main building is a parking lot with a capacity for 250 cars and an area for motorcycles. Long term parking is also provided.

In 2016, the airport handled 7,376,160 passengers, and 6,892,104 in 2017.


Between 1930 and 1932, three wealthy families in the metropolitan area of Medellín 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 Medellín to Puerto Berrio, along the Magdalena River and ultimately connect the cities of Medellín and Bogotá. One of the most important was Gonzalo Mejia, who in a very colloquial manner determined what would be the only place where an airport could be built; this location was later confirmed by the Curtis Wright firm based in New York City.

After several obstacles, the city of Medellín finally approved the construction of an unpaved runway about 974 m long, which would later become Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport. Companies like Saco and Scadta from the cities of Barranquilla and Bogotá soon began service. Then in the 70s the need for a larger airport for the province of Antioquia arose due to saturation and limitations of the Olaya Herrera Airport. Two sites were proposed for the new airport: one in the vicinity of the municipality of Barbosa northeast of the city, and another in the valley of San Nicolas in Rionegro, east of the city. The latter was selected and construction began.

The airport opened in 1985. During the same year, Avianca conducted test flights of its Boeing 747, first on the original runway at Olaya Herrera Airport, and then at the new José María Córdova. During this time the airport had significant movement of cargo and passengers, as the operations from the Olaya Herrera airport declined to almost zero (both airports today have traffic, but the Olaya Herrera airport only serves for domestic flights). José María Córdova is now the main airport for cargo and international flights from Medellín.

In August 2019, a new highway opened, which cut the traveling time from the airport to Medellín from 45 to just 20 minutes. The route includes a tunnel called "Tunel de Oriente". The total cost of the project was 1.1 billion pesos.[7]

Renovation & Expansion[edit]

José María Córdova Airport underwent an expansion in 2017 that expanded the domestic terminal from 41,350 sq. meters to 50,000 sq. meters and added five new gates to it, along with three new gates for the international terminal.

The expansion will increase the passenger handling capacity to 11 millon annually. [8]

Within the works, passengers will find security systems, flight information via digital displays, high-tech communication, passenger arrival lounges with shopping, improvement in health services, improvement in firefighting services, and improvement in baggage handling systems. The total cost of the works was 350 billion pesos. [9]

The objectives of the renovation and expansion plan are to make the airport a modern facility, improve the comfort of passengers, and to meet the requirements of ICAO, AEROCIVIL (the Colombian civil aviation authority) and IATA.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights at the airport. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several flights are currently suspended.

Aeroméxico Mexico City
Air Europa Madrid
Albatros Airlines Caracas
American Airlines Miami, New York–JFK (begins May 6, 2021)
Aruba Airlines Aruba
Avianca Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Madrid, Miami, Monteria, New York–JFK, San Salvador, Santa Marta
Seasonal: San Andrés Island
Avior Airlines Caracas, Valencia (VE)
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
EasyFly Bucaramanga, Monteria, Pereira
Iberia Madrid
JetBlue Fort Lauderdale
LATAM Colombia Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cartagena, Monteria, San Andrés Island, Santa Marta
LATAM Perú Lima
Sky High Aviation Services Santo Domingo–Las Americas
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
Viva Air Colombia Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cancún (begins 2 June 2021), Cartagena, Mexico City (begins 6 June 2021), Miami, Monteria, Orlando (begins 10 June 2021), San Andres Island, Santa Marta
Wingo Bogotá, Panama City–Balboa


Amerijet International Miami
Avianca Cargo Lima, Miami, Quito, San José-Juan Santamaría
FedEx Express Miami
LATAM Cargo Brasil Miami


Busiest domestic routes (roundtrip) out of Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (Jan-Dec) (2016) [10]
Rank City Passengers Top carriers
1 Bogotá, Cundinamarca 3,590,548 Avianca, LATAM Colombia, Viva Colombia
2 Cali, Valle del Cauca 739,954 Avianca, Viva Colombia
3 Cartagena, Bolívar 735,408 Avianca, Viva Colombia, LATAM Colombia
4 Barranquilla, Atlántico 365,086 Avianca, Viva Colombia
5 San Andrés, San Andrés 329,274 LATAM Colombia, Viva Colombia
6 Santa Marta, Magdalena 276,684 Avianca, Viva Colombia
7 Montería, Córdoba 125,534 Avianca, Viva Colombia
8 Bucaramanga, Santander 65,888 Avianca
Busiest international routes (roundtrip) out of José María Córdova International Airport (Jan-Dec) (2016) [11]
Rank City Passengers Top carriers
1 Panama Panamá, Panama 386,499 Copa Airlines Colombia
2 United States Miami, USA 249,167 American Airlines, Avianca, Viva Colombia
3 United States Fort Lauderdale, USA 172,929 JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines
4 Spain Madrid, Spain 85,894 Avianca, Iberia
5 El Salvador San Salvador, El Salvador 63,614 Avianca El Salvador
6 United States New York, USA 63,475 Avianca
7 Peru Lima, Peru 63,276 Avianca Perú
8 Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 62,774 Aeromexico
9 United States Atlanta, United States 56,857 Delta Air Lines
10 Panama Panama City-Balboa, Panama 53,809 Viva Colombia, Wingo
11 Panama Panama City–Albrook, Panama 46,873 Air Panama
12 Venezuela Valencia, Venezuela 40,174 Avior Airlines
13 Curaçao Willemstad, Curaçao 13,995 Insel Air
14 Aruba Oranjestad, Aruba 6,082 Insel Air Aruba

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ASUR Announces Total Passenger Traffic for December 2020" (PDF). Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste. January 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Medellin NDB
  3. ^ Marinilla VOR
  4. ^ Rionegro VOR
  5. ^
  6. ^
  8. ^ "Colombia cuts ribbon on Medellín airport upgrade". Bnamericas. 15 December 2017.
  10. ^ Aerocivil statistics
  11. ^ Aerocivil traffic

External links[edit]

Media related to José María Córdova International Airport at Wikimedia Commons