José Martí International Airport

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José Martí International Airport

Aeropuerto José Martí
Havana Airport Terminal 3.jpg
Airport typePublic
OperatorECASA S.A.
ServesHavana, Cuba
LocationBoyeros Municipality
Hub for
Elevation AMSL64 m / 210 ft
Coordinates22°59′21″N 082°24′33″W / 22.98917°N 82.40917°W / 22.98917; -82.40917Coordinates: 22°59′21″N 082°24′33″W / 22.98917°N 82.40917°W / 22.98917; -82.40917
MUHA is located in Cuba
Location in Cuba
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 4,000 13,123 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Source: Aerodrome chart[3]

José Martí International Airport (IATA: HAV, ICAO: MUHA), sometimes known by its former name Rancho-Boyeros Airport, is an international airport located 15 km (9 mi) southwest of Havana, Cuba, and is a hub for Cubana de Aviación and Aerogaviota, and former Latin American hub for the Soviet (later Russian) airline Aeroflot.[4] It is Cuba's main international and domestic gateway, and serves several million passengers each year. The airport is operated by Empresa Cubana de Aeropuertos y Servicios Aeronáuticos (ECASA).

The airport lies in the municipality of Boyeros and connects Havana with the rest of the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America, Europe, and one destination each in Africa (to Luanda by TAAG Angola Airlines) and Asia (to Beijing, via Montreal by Air China). It is named in memory of patriot and poet José Martí.

In the 1960s, the airport was bombed by B-26 aircraft from Brigade 2506, a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles attempting to overthrow Fidel Castro.

Private Cuban citizens are not allowed to own aircraft; all aircraft in Cuba belong to state-owned airlines or the military. Only government- and foreign-owned aircraft are allowed to use the facilities. Today, Copa Airlines is the foreign airline with most flights to the airport, operating 34 flights a week (roughly 5 daily flights) from Panama City, Panama and Bogotá, Colombia.


Terminal 3 departures area
Domestic Terminal 1 (before renovations)
Terminal 3 check-in area after renovations
Terminal 3 early afternoon flight information (March 2018)
Turkish Airlines A330 at Terminal 3

The current José Martí Airport in 1930 replaced the Columbia Airfield, which was the first airport to serve Havana. The original name of the airport, Rancho Boyeros, meaning the "(Bull) Drover Ranch", was in reference to the name of the plains/territory where the airport was being built. It was known as the Rancho Boyeros because in colonial times a local family had built a thatched hut and provided meals and an inn to the weary drovers that brought agricultural products to the capital from Batabanó and Vuelta Abajo.

To give a progressive environment to the airport, the old ranch homes were transformed into a small town that would serve as an industrial, livestock, agriculture and commercial centre, rising comfortable homes, an industrial technical school, a paint factory and other facilities. The town today is known as the Boyeros Municipality.


  • 1929: The construction of José Martí Airport, formerly Rancho Boyeros Airport, was authorized in March 1929 by General Order No. 223.
  • 1930: On February 24, the airport opened, replacing Havana Columbia Airfield.
  • 1930: On October 30, the first flight by Cubana de Aviación (formerly Compañía Nacional Cubana de Aviación Curtiss) from Havana to Santiago de Cuba carried the mail on a Ford Trimotor with stops in Santa Clara, Morón and Camagüey.
  • 1936: non-commercial flights to Madrid started with a Lockheed Sirius named September 4, commanded by Capt. Antonio Menéndez Pélaez. She was flown via Venezuela, Natal, Brazil, and Dakar, Senegal.
  • 1943: By January 1943 the airport had its first control tower, the first in the country.
  • 1945: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is formed at Havana.
  • 1945: Cubana's first international flight out of the airport was a Douglas DC-3 to Miami on May 15.
  • 1946: First transatlantic flight from any Latin American country to Europe: Havana-Madrid was on DC-4, operated by Aerovias Cubanas Internacionales (Cunnair), founded by Cuban pioneer Reinaldo Ramirez Rosell.
  • 1948: On May 5 Cubana's first transatlantic flight Havana-Madrid was on DC-4 Estrella de Cuba.
  • 1950: On April 2 the airport had a second route to Europe, Havana-Rome on a Cubana de Aviación DC-4.
  • 1951: The first night flight landed at the airport from Santiago de Cuba with a DC-3.
  • 1953: First flight to Mexico City on a Cubana Constellation.

International service in the 1950s[edit]

Recent history[edit]

In 1961, diplomatic relations with the United States deteriorated substantially and with the United States embargo against Cuba, airlines from the United States were not permitted to operate regular scheduled flights to the airport. That year, two days prior to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion organized by the CIA with the participation of Cuban exiles, Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft from Brigade 2506 bombarded José Martí Airport and Antonio Maceo Airport in Santiago de Cuba.

Because of Cuba's relationship with the Soviet Union, the airport during the 1970s and 1980s enjoyed the presence of many Eastern Bloc airline companies, such as Aeroflot, Czechoslovak Airlines, Interflug, and LOT Polish Airlines. In 1977 an Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-62 operating a scheduled flight from Moscow to Havana via Frankfurt and Lisbon crashed after takeoff from Lisbon, killing 68 of the 70 on board and one person on the ground.[6] In 1989 a second Ilyushin Il-62, operated by Cubana as Cubana de Aviación Flight 9646, crashed after takeoff. All of the 115 passengers and 11 crew members as well as a number persons on the ground were killed.

In 1988, Terminal 2 was constructed in anticipation of future charter flights to the United States. In the 1990s the special charter flights were approved by the US government, to operate from Miami for Cuban citizens living in the United States that have close relatives in Cuba. Today, various airlines operate non-stop scheduled charter service between Havana and Miami. Terminal 2 was remodeled and expanded in 2010.

On December 31, 1997 a Concorde landed in Cuba for the first time, landing at José Martí Airport.[7] The Air France flight London-Paris-Barbados-Havana was received at the airport by Fidel Castro, who boarded the aircraft and greeted the crew and passengers. On April 26 the following year, the new International Terminal 3 was inaugurated by Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Cuba's President Fidel Castro. In 2002 Air Freight Logistics Enterprise (ELCA S.A.) opened José Martí's first freight terminal known as the Aerovaradero Freight Terminal. The terminal has a 600 t (590 long tons; 660 short tons) capacity, 2,000 m3 (71,000 cu ft) of space in two refrigeration and freezing chambers, with humidity and gas controls.

In 2007, three young recruits who deserted from the Cuban Army tried to hijack a commercial passenger aircraft aiming to defect to the United States. At Terminal 1, the would-be hijackers killed one of the hostages, a lieutenant colonel.[8]

Special charter service to the United States were allowed from the 1990s, but must be operated by travel companies licensed by the U.S. government, largely from Florida. In March 2015, Sun Country Airlines started operating regularly scheduled charter flights from New York during the Cuban Thaw.[9] Regularly scheduled commercial service to and from the United States began again in the fall of 2016, with such airlines as American, Delta, JetBlue and, after January 2017, Alaska, flying to Havana.[10]


Terminal 3 waiting area

There are currently 3 passenger terminals in general use at the airport.[11] Terminal 1 is used primarily for domestic flights. Terminal 2 opened in 1988, primarily for charter flights to the United States. Ten years later on April 27, 1998, the International Terminal 3 was opened. International Terminal 3 offers many modern facilities and jetways that the former international Terminal 1 did not provide. For transfer between terminals, bus services are offered.[citation needed]

Terminal 1[edit]

Domestic Terminal 1 used to be the main international and domestic terminal building in the airport prior of the opening of terminal 2 and 3-which was constructed in 1998. The terminal is located on the east side of runway 06. It is now used primarily for domestic flights.

Terminal 2[edit]

Terminal 2 handles some long-distance international flights, such as to Zurich, Frankfurt, and Helsinki, along with a few Caribbean flights, such as to Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago, and most of the scheduled charter flights to and from Miami, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and New York City. The scheduled charter flights to the United States are operated by Gulfstream Air Charters, ABC Charters, Marazul Charters, CTS Charters, and C & T Charters. The terminal is located on the north side roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from terminal 3, and is just in front of the threshold of runway 24. It was constructed in 1988 when the first charter flights after the revolution were opened from Miami. There are bars, bookshops, newsagents, and also a restaurant on the second floor, as well as car rentals.

Terminal 3[edit]

International Terminal 3 is the main international terminal which was opened in 1998. It is the largest and most modern of all terminals. Ticketing and departures are located on the upper level, arrivals and baggage carousels are located on the lower level. There are several car rentals located in the Arrivals Area.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Aerogaviota Baracoa, Cayo Coco, Holguín, Kingston, Montego Bay, Santiago de Cuba
Aeroméxico Mexico City
Aeropostal Caracas
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson
Air Caraïbes Paris–Orly
Air China Beijing–Capital, Montréal–Trudeau
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal charter: Pointe-à-Pitre
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau
Alitalia Seasonal: Rome–Fiumicino
American Airlines Miami
Bahamasair Nassau
Blue Panorama Airlines Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino
Caribbean Airlines Port of Spain
Cayman Airways Grand Cayman
Condor Frankfurt
Seasonal: Munich
Conviasa Caracas, Managua
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Corsair International Paris–Orly
Cubana de Aviación Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cancún (suspended)[12] Caracas (suspended),[12] Fort-de-France (suspended),[12] Guantánamo, Holguín (suspended),[12] Madrid, Mexico City (suspended),[12] Nueva Gerona, Pointe-à-Pitre (suspended),[12] Santiago de Cuba, Santo Domingo–Las Américas (suspended)[12]
Delta Air Lines Miami
Delta Connection Atlanta
EasySky Tegucigalpa
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Eurowings Düsseldorf
Evelop Airlines Madrid
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Fly All Ways Paramaribo
Iberia Madrid
InterCaribbean Airways Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Interjet Cancún, Mérida, Mexico City, Monterrey
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK, Orlando (ends April 28, 2020)[13]
KLM Seasonal: Amsterdam
LATAM Perú Lima
Neos Seasonal Charter: Milan–Malpensa
Southwest Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Tampa
Sunrise Airways Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau
TAAG Angola Airlines Luanda
Turkish Airlines Istanbul1
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental
United Express Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
Virgin Atlantic London–Gatwick (ends June 7, 2020),[14] London–Heathrow (begins June 9, 2020)[14]
VivaAerobus Charter: Cancún, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey
Wingo Bogotá, Panama City–Balboa
  • ^1 Turkish Airlines' flight from Havana to Istanbul makes a stop in Caracas. However, the airline does not have traffic rights to transport passengers solely between Havana and Caracas.


IBC Airways Miami[citation needed]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • "1977 Aeroflot Ilyushin 62 crash" on May 27 killed 68 of the 70 on-board and one person on the ground. At the time the accident was the deadliest aviation accident in Cuba's history. It remains the third deadliest in Cuba's history. One of the victims was José Carlos Schwarz, a poet and musician from Guinea-Bissau.
  • On July 7, 1983, Air Florida Flight 8 with 47 people on board was flying from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Tampa International Airport. One of the passengers handed a note to one of the flight attendants, saying that he had a bomb and telling them to fly the plane to Havana, Cuba. He revealed a small athletic bag, which he opened and inside was an apparent explosive device. The airplane was diverted to Havana-José Martí International Airport and the hijacker was taken into custody by Cuban authorities.[15]
  • On September 3, 1989, Cubana de Aviación Flight 9646, an Ilyushin Il-62M (CU-T1281) operating a non-scheduled international passenger flight to Cologne (Cologne Bonn Airport), West Germany crashed shortly after take-off. All of the 115 passengers and 11 crew members as well as 45 persons on the ground were killed and the aircraft was written off.
  • On May 3, 2007, two army recruits hijacked a plane destined for Miami at José Martí International Airport in Havana. The men killed a hostage before being arrested prior to takeoff. It was the first Cuban hijacking attempt reported since the spring of 2003.[16]
  • On May 18, 2018, a Global Air (Mexico) Boeing 737-200 operating as Cubana de Aviación Flight 972 crashed after takeoff killing 112 of the 113 people on board (107 passengers and 6 crew).[17]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ "Top 20 fastest-growing major airports in the world". March 16, 2018. Archived from the original on March 27, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "Havana Jose Marti International Airport: Exciting times and the opportunity to become a regional hub". Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  3. ^ "Jose Marti Airport diagram" (PDF). (in Spanish). May 10, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 22, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  4. ^ "COMPANY NEWS - Aeroflot May Shift A Hub to Miami -". New York Times. October 4, 1990.
  5. ^ "First Direct Flight From New Orleans To Cuba Since 1958 To Take Off This Weekend". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Ilyushin Il-62M CCCP-86614 Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV)". Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "▶️ VIDEO: El día que el Concorde aterrizó en La Habana, Cuba". CiberCuba (in Spanish). April 8, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  8. ^ "Frustrated attempt to hijack a commercial passenger plane". Archived from the original on July 1, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  9. ^ ABC News. "U.S. News - National News". ABC News. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  10. ^ "U.S. clears 6 airlines for takeoff to Cuba, but flights won't start right away". Archived from the original on July 23, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Aerodromos de Cuba". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on April 4, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Cuban cancels flights to the Caribbean due to US restrictions on third parties" (in Spanish). Aero Latin News. October 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 3, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Harro Ranter (July 7, 1983). "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737 registration unknown Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV)". Archived from the original on May 7, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ (in English) Americas: Cuba: Officer Dies In Plane Hijacking Attempt Archived June 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, May 4, 2007.
  17. ^ "More than 100 die in Cuba plane crash". BBC News. May 18, 2018. Archived from the original on August 11, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2018.

External links[edit]