Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport

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Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport

El Salvador International Airport
Fachada sal.jpg
Airport typeMilitary/Public
ServesEl Salvador
LocationSan Luis Talpa, La Paz
Hub for
Elevation AMSL31 m / 102 ft
Coordinates13°26′27″N 089°03′20″W / 13.44083°N 89.05556°W / 13.44083; -89.05556Coordinates: 13°26′27″N 089°03′20″W / 13.44083°N 89.05556°W / 13.44083; -89.05556
MSLP is located in El Salvador
Location in El Salvador
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 3,200 10,499 Asphalt
18/36 (Closed) 800 2,625 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Total passengers3,413,353 [1]
Commercial aircraft18,345
AIP at COCESNA[2] and DAFIF[3]
passengers and aircraft from airport website[4][5]

Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero) (IATA: SAL, ICAO: MSLP), previously known as Comalapa International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Comalapa); previous Official name El Salvador International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional El Salvador). is an airport located about 50 km (31 mi) from San Salvador in El Salvador. With 2,984,746 passengers in 2016, it is the busiest airport in El Salvador and third-busiest in Central America by passenger traffic.[4]


The airport was built in the late 1970s to replace its predecessor, Ilopango International Airport, which is now used for regional, air taxi, military and charter aviation. The airport's name change was made by former president Mauricio Funes, but it is still locally known as El Salvador International Airport ( Spanish: "Aeropuerto Internacional de El Salvador") Funding for this project was provided through the Government of Japan. Engineering and building came under the direction of Hazama Ando (then Hazama Gumi). The electrical work for all lighting and communications was completed by Toshiba (then TOKYO SHIBAURA ELECTRIC). The Airport entered in operation on 31 January 1980, with its first flight being a TACA airliner bound for Guatemala City.

Since 1998 when the first expansion of the airport occurred (AIES II), the airport has been suffering from saturation in areas of check-in, screening, immigration and baggage as it continues to serve more than 2 million passengers arriving each year. In late 2012, CEPA began their rehabilitation, modernization and optimization project for the airport, which was completed in April 2015.

On 16 January 2014, El Salvador President Mauricio Funes announced in San Salvador's Presidential House the renaming of El Salvador International Airport to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero. The Legislature of El Salvador approved the name change on 19 March 2014, without the vote of ARENA or PDC, to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport. El Salvador's former President Mauricio Funes on 24 March 2014 unveiled a ceremonial plaque to mark the official renaming.


Expanding the International Airport of El Salvador (AIES) will cost $492.7 million and will occur in four phases from 2014-2032, as provided by new master plan for development of the terminal, which was presented by the CEPA in December 2013. Unlike the Master Plan from 2007 by Airports of Paris, the new proposal by Kimley Horn does not include building a new passenger terminal. Instead, it will restore and rehabilitate and expand the terminal. The new renovated terminal will have a three-story building where it will separate the traffic flows of passengers arriving and departing.

  • Expansion Phase I (2014–2017)
Includes the expansion of a passenger terminal at 45,000 square meters, on the south side of the terminal, which will boost its current capacity of 1.6 through 3.6 million passengers. At this stage, creation of more businesses, parking lot improvements, refurbishment of the check in-area, landscaping, improvements to surrounding streets, signage purchase and new lighting systems are also contemplated. Also in the works are plans to add equipment for the new cargo terminal. Additionally planned is to develop 80.9 acres of surrounding areas for interested companies potentially to move into the vicinity of the airport. This phase will cost approximately US$115.5 million.
  • Expansion Phase II (2018–2022)
Phase II includes the construction of seven additional gatehouses for passengers, as well as new aircraft parking positions to exceed more than 20 new gates. This phase will cost approximately US$100.9 million.
  • Expansion Phase III (2023–2027) and Phase IV (2028–2032)
According to CEPA, Phase III and IV are of "medium and long term", which consider extensions depending on future demand at the airport. Phase III will invest US$78.3 million and Phase IV will invest US$198.5 million. During this stage, CEPA is planning and projecting to construct a new train station within the airport. This will allow passengers to transit to places like San Salvador, San Miguel and La Union. By 2032, the airport is projected to have 43 gates. By 2032, it is expected the airport would be capable of receiving 6.6 million passengers.

Airport infrastructure[edit]

El Salvador International Airport corridor.
Gate 4 at El Salvador International Airport.
Main corridor at El Salvador International Airport.
View of the El Salvador International Airport.
El Salvador International Airport.

Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (or locally known as Comalapa International Airport) serves as the main hub for TACA Airlines, now Avianca Airlines. The cargo terminal, located a few dozen meters west of the passenger terminal, handles millions of tons of cargo each year. Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport is located about 50 km (31 mi) from the city of San Salvador. Roads connect the airport with the city. It handles international flights to Central America, North America, South America and Europe including daily flights to Spain.

When the airport was built, it originally had only 7 gates. It was designed to handle around 400,000 passengers a year, but the high increase of passengers in the last 15 years brought the airport to its maximum capacity. The airport has had two main expansions in the last decade or so. In its first phase (named AIES I), the airport grew from 7 boarding gates to 12, and later the second phase, AIES II, added 5 more gates bringing the total to 17. Along with new gates, new expanded passenger waiting areas were built. Even though all these expansions have been made, the airport once again has reached the peak of its capacity, handling over 2 million passengers in 2006.

There are several drug enforcement agents conducting random security checks and interviews of travelers at the airport. These agents can be identified due to the items they wear such as a fanny pack, either around the waist or over the shoulder. They also carry an airport access identification card around the neck. One side of the badge carrier shows the airport identification and access card with their photo, the other side of the carrier has the Salvadorean drug enforcement agency official badge.

The airport has a main runway (07/25) 3,200 m × 45 m (10,499 ft × 148 ft),[3] with an effective running surface of 45 m (148 ft) and 7.5 m (25 ft) shoulders. Parallel to the main track and the same length as this, is the taxiway Alpha, which is connected to the track through six starts. For the use of small aircraft, there is also a secondary runway built (18/36), 800 m × 23 m (2,625 ft × 75 ft),[3] which is currently used for parking of "long life" for aircraft that require it. Gates for heavy aircraft are available.

The platform of the Passenger Terminal Building (ETP) has twenty three aircraft parking positions, fourteen of which have boarding bridges, which connect the aircraft directly to the waiting rooms. The nine remaining positions are "remote", i.e., passengers who disembark at any of them are transferred to the ETP through aerobuses. The remote gates are used mostly by turboprop aircraft. The ETP has a total constructed area of 34,380 m2 (370,100 sq ft), which houses the waiting rooms and corridors, immigration and customs areas and a variety of shops. The runway is capable of handling landings and takeoffs by B747 and B777 aircraft. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing Wen made an official diplomatic tour of Central America in an Eva Air B777-300ER aircraft.

The platform of the Cargo Terminal Building (ETC) has three positions for cargo aircraft parking, and also has a platform for the maintenance of five aircraft if required, just in front of hangars Aeromantenimiento (AEROMAN), a modern repairs workshop. The ETC has a total built area, comprising warehouses and offices, of 10,286 m2 (110,720 sq ft).


The airport's modern facilities include duty-free shops, fast food and full-service restaurants, bars, air conditioned areas, tourist facilities, car rental, and spacious waiting rooms. There is space for 17 airplanes in the main terminal, 3 in the cargo terminal, 37 in Aeromantenimiento, S.A., and around 20 in the "Long Term Parking" which is runway 18/36. 94.5% of the airport's flights are on time (2005 data). The airport and runway have been closed at least 10 times in the almost quarter century since opening. They were closed for several hours following the devastating earthquake of 2001, followed up with minor repairs to the east end of the runway. They were closed again for several hours in 2005 due to Hurricane Stan. Although the airport is located near the Pacific Ocean, storms and hurricanes are not frequent.

There is Wifi availability throughout much of the airport via Claro El Salvador. Near Gate 17, a café called "The Coffee Cup" has free WiFi for all customers.

Shops & restaurants[edit]

Airport passengers can make purchases from a wide range of duty-free shopping, including clothing, perfume, and spirits. There are also a variety of craft shops and restaurants. Other services include twelve car rental companies. Hotel chains such as Marriott International, Radisson, Intercontinental, Hilton, Terrace, and Comfort offer representative & check-in desks at the airport.


The International Airport of El Salvador, based in the town of San Luis Talpa, La Paz, received an international certification from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), after an investment of $8 million and a process of four years and two extensions.

The document credits the Salvadorian airport terminal with compliance with all safety regulations issued under the Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), on fire control and health care, removal of rubber from the runways, lights and safety signs.

The certification will enable El Salvador to keep the category 1 status from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States. "From the start of operations of the airport in January 1980, the terminal has been characterized by its safety," said Ricardo Sauerbrey, head of the Salvadorian terminal.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Aeroméxico Connect Mexico City
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
Avianca Costa Rica Cancún, Los Angeles, New York–JFK, Quito, San José (CR), Toronto–Pearson
Avianca El Salvador Belize City, Bogotá, Boston (ends June 1, 2019),[6]Cali (ends June 1, 2019), Cartagena (ends June 1, 2019), Dallas/Fort Worth, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, Houston–Intercontinental, Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Medellín–JMC, Mexico City, Miami, Newark, New York–JFK, Orlando, Panama City, San Francisco, San José (CR), San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Washington–Dulles
Avianca Guatemala Managua, Roatán, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa
Avianca Perú Lima
Copa Airlines Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles (ends April 30, 2019)[7]
Iberia Madrid1
Interjet Mexico City[8]
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental, Orlando
Transportes Aéreos de El Salvador San Salvador-Ilopango
Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos Guatemala City
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental
Seasonal: Newark
Volaris Guadalajara, Mexico City (both begin May 1, 2019)[9]
Volaris Costa Rica Cancún, Guatemala City, Los Angeles, Managua, New York–JFK, San José (CR), Washington–Dulles

^1 Iberia flight from Madrid to San Salvador makes a stop in Guatemala City, but the airline does not have traffic rights to transport passengers solely between Guatemala City and San Salvador.


UPS Airlines Miami

Airport statistics[edit]

City Arrival and Departure
United States Los Angeles, California United States 523,311
United States Houston, Texas United States 356,912
United States Miami, Florida United States 312,720
United States Washington D.C. United States 236,726
Panama Panama City, Panama 198,072
United States San Francisco, California United States 113,185[10]
Costa Rica San José, Costa Rica 104,452
United States Atlanta, Georgia United States 98,564
United States New York City, New York United States 97,856
Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 87,313
Guatemala Guatemala City, Guatemala 75,678
Nicaragua Managua, Nicaragua 63,278
Peru Lima, Peru 37,647
Canada Toronto, Canada 35,497
Honduras San Pedro Sula, Honduras 29,404
Honduras Tegucigalpa, Honduras 28,264
United States Newark, New Jersey United States 22,982
Colombia Bogotá, Colombia 19,123
Spain Madrid, Spain 17,324
Canada Montreal, Canada 13,420
Mexico Cancun, Mexico 10,390
Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela 5,746
Ecuador Guayaquil, Ecuador 4,165
Costa Rica Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica 3,326
Total Traffic Departures and Arrivals 4,464,295
Boeing 737-800 of United on gate 10 at Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport
Airline Percentage of Passengers Transported (2016) [11]
El Salvador Avianca 76.7%
United States United Airlines 6.3%
United States Delta Airlines 4.6%
Panama Copa Airlines 3.4%
United States American Airlines 3.3%
Total 100.0%

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport hasn't had any fatalities or accidents. However, there has been one emergency landing from a flight passing near the airport.

  • In 2001, El Salvador experienced an earthquake (7.6 in the Richter scale). El Salvador International Airport (SAL) closed several hours due to airport damage, all damage was successfully repaired.
  • November 2013, A Copa Airlines Flight from Los Angeles with destination to Panama City, Panama, had to perform an emergency landing at El Salvador Intl. Airport due to technical problems.
  • On 29 December 2013, flights to/from Honduras and Nicaragua were suspended due to the eruption of the Chaparrastique Volcano (San Miguel Volcano), which caused an ash plume that had a 10 kilometers height. Flights to/from Honduras and Nicaragua resumed when it was safe to fly by and the Yellow and Orange Alerts were gone; by 5 January 2014 all flights were resumed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "AIS - MSLP - EL SALVADOR". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Airport information for MSLP at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
  4. ^ a b "..:: Comisión Ejecutiva Portuaria Autónoma - CEPA ::." Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  5. ^ "..:: Comisión Ejecutiva Portuaria Autónoma - CEPA ::." Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  6. ^ ""Avianca Holdings cancela 10 rutas internacionales y una nacional"". Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  7. ^ "Delta ends Los Angeles – San Salvador service in late-April 2019". Routes Online. January 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  8. ^ "Interjet starts operations to El Salvador" (in Spanish). EnElAire. November 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "Volaris announces new direct flights to El Salvador from Mexico City and Guadalajara" (in Spanish). EnElAire. March 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  10. ^ "Air Traffic Statistics". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  11. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport at Wikimedia Commons