Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport
|Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport
Aeropuerto Juan Gualberto Gómez
|IATA: VRA – ICAO: MUVR|
|Elevation AMSL||64 m / 210 ft|
Source: Aerodrome chart
Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport (IATA: VRA, ICAO: MUVR), formerly known as Varadero Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto de Varadero), is an international airport serving Varadero, Cuba and the province of Matanzas. The airport is located closer to the city of Matanzas than to Varadero. The closest airport to Varadero is Kawama Airport. In 2009, the airport handled 1.28 million passengers, making it the second busiest airport in Cuba after José Martí International Airport in Havana.
Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport was built in 1989 and inaugurated by Fidel Castro, thus replacing the old Varadero airport located in Santa Marta, currently known as Kawama Airport. The airport was named after a journalist, fighter for the Cuban Independence and black rights activist in Cuba Juan Gualberto Gómez (1854–1933).
The terminal building has shops for tourists (including rum, cigars, T-shirts, books, carvings, pharmaceuticals), a large departures lounge cafeterias and a VIP lounge. A VIP card is available by paying $30/person to the local tour company representative. This allows the departing passenger to bypass the queues for check-in, have an agent take your departure tax to the correct official for you, and bypass any lines for passport control. The passenger is then taken to the VIP lounge which provides free food and drink (including alcoholic beverages). The ground handling equipment is imported mainly from North America. There are four jet bridges, but air stairs are used for the remaining aircraft parking spaces on the apron by the terminal.
Airlines and destinations
There have been five significant incidents involving aircraft from or en route to the airport since the 1950s. Only 1 flight involved resulted in fatalities. Three flights involved Cubans hijacking an aircraft to flee to the United States.
- March 6, 2005 - Air Transat Flight 961 Airbus A310 returned safely to airport following detachment of rudder after take off.
- December 29, 1992 - Aerocaribbean Antonov 26 was hijacked en route to Varadero Airport from Havana. The aircraft landed in Miami.
Incidents in the old Varadero (Santa Marta) Airport:
- July 3, 1961 - Cubana de Aviación Douglas DC-3 was hijacked en route to Varadero Airport from Havana. Aircraft lands in Miami.
- April 25, 1959 - Cubana de Aviación Vickers Viscount was hijacked after takeoff from the Varadero Airport and forced to land at Key West International Airport.
- November 1, 1958 - Cubana de Aviación Flight 495 Vickers Viscount 755D crashes in Nipe Bay when attempting an emergency landing at Preston Airport. Plane was en route to Varadero from Miami with 20 on board. Only 3 survived with 17 fatalities.
- Aerodrome chart issued 10 May 2007
- www.radioangulo.cu - Servicios Archivo Aeropuerto de Varadero entre los mejores del país (Spanish only)
- Personal experience, Dec 2013.
- "Charter operation to Punta Cana, Samaná and Montego Bay".
Media related to Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport at Wikimedia Commons