Tocumen International Airport

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Tocumen International Airport
Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen
Logo of Tocumen Airport, Panama City.png
Final Approach Runway 03R (8417806125).jpg
Airport type Public
Operator Tocumen S.A.
Serves Panama City
Location Tocumen, Panama
Hub for Copa Airlines
Elevation AMSL 41 m / 135 ft
Coordinates 09°04′17″N 079°23′01″W / 9.07139°N 79.38361°W / 9.07139; -79.38361Coordinates: 09°04′17″N 079°23′01″W / 9.07139°N 79.38361°W / 9.07139; -79.38361
MPTO is located in Panama
Location in Panama
Direction Length Surface
m ft
03R/21L 3,050 10,007 Concrete
03L/21R 2,682 8,799 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 13,434,673
Source: DAFIF,[1] STV[2]

Tocumen International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen) (IATA: PTYICAO: MPTO) is the international airport of Panama City, the capital of Panama. The airport serves as the homebase for Copa Airlines and is a regional hub to and from The Caribbean, South, North and Central America and additionally features routes to some major European cities. Tocumen International Airport is currently the busiest airport in Central America.


During World War II, Panamanian airports were leased exclusively by the U.S. military. The nearest airport to Tocumen was the Paitilla Point Airfield. Several airports were built to protect the Panama Canal from foreign aggression. The 37th Pursuit Group at Albrook Field replaced the P-40 Warhawks of the 28th Pursuit Squadron at the Paitilla Point airbase from 9 December 1941 though 26 March 1942 in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Tocumen International Airport was inaugurated on June 1, 1947 by President Enrique A. Jiménez, and airport operations began before the construction works were completed. The administrative building/passenger terminal was inaugurated seven years later, during the administration of Colonel Jose Antonio Remon Cantera. The old airport building, which currently is being used as a cargo terminal, was built on an area of 720 ha (1,800 acres) and was 126 ft (38 m) above sea level. As time passed, and due to Panama's role as a country of transit, that terminal became too small to attend to the growing demand for air operations. This compelled the aeronautical authorities at the time to consider expanding the airport. Work on the new buildings began in 1971.

In order to build the structure that currently houses the current passenger terminal, a lot of land had to be moved and the bed of the Tocumen river had to be diverted from its original site. The current passenger terminal was inaugurated on August 15, 1978 and operations began on September 5 of the same year. The Tocumen International Airport is one of the few airports in the region that has two landing runways able to serve the largest commercial aircraft operating today.

The name of the airport was changed in 1981 by the military government for Omar Torrijos International Airport, in honor to the Panamanian leader who died in July 31, 1981, at the age of 52 in a plane crash in Cerro Marta, Coclesito in very bad conditions. After nine years, the original name was reestablished after the fall of the dictatorship of Panama by the U.S. invasion of 1989. The original runway (03L/21R) is mainly used for cargo and private flights, but also as a supplement to the primary runway during peak traffic periods. The main runway (03R/21L) is 3,050 m × 45 m (10,007 ft × 148 ft) and is used primarily for commercial flights, the 03R direction is ILS Cat. I enabled. Until May 31, 2003 Tocumen International Airport was managed by the Civil Aeronautics Directorate (which is known today as the Civil Aeronautics Authority). On June 1 of that year, an innovative terminal management platform was created through Law No. 23 of January 29, 2003, which set out a regulatory framework for the management of airports and landing strips in Panama. This law allowed the creation of Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen, S.A., also referred to as Tocumen, S.A., which currently manages the terminal. This law is one of a number of laws that restructured the aeronautical sector in Panama to further its improvement and modernization.[3]

In August 2015, it was announced that Emirates would operate flights to Tocumen International Airport from Dubai starting February 2016, at which point it would have become the world's longest non-stop flight.[4] In January 2016, the route was delayed due to a lack of economical opportunities for the flight. It has not yet been announced when the flight will begin regularly scheduled operations.[5] It was planned to make the route between Tocumen International Airport and Dubai the longest flight in the world, until Emirates started flying between Dubai and Auckland.

During 2016 to 2017, Tocumen International Airport will undergo the completion of the airport's new South Terminal.[6]


Main building
Check-in hall

First phase[edit]

In 2006, Tocumen S.A. started a major expansion and renovation program. The main passenger terminal was expanded 20,830 m2 (224,200 sq ft) at a cost of approximately US$21 million. New boarding gates were built to allow more flights to and from Panama, and to facilitate the growth of commercial and internal circulation areas.

Tocumen airport administration acquired 22 new boarding bridges and replaced the oldest 14. This included the addition of 6 remote positions, hence allowing Tocumen Airport to have a total of 28 boarding gates. The new installations were opened in 2006. The airport also has a VIP lounge, Copa Club, operated by the partnership between United Airlines and Copa Airlines that caters to Copa's partner airlines and Star Alliance members. It also had an Admirals Club for American Airlines, which closed on June 30, 2012.[7]

The next step of the modernization project was the purchasing of new equipment to provide service and support to the common areas of the airport. New equipment included: modern boarding gates and elevators, luggage conveyor belts, flight information system, and revamping the air conditioning system.

The renovation of the old Tocumen international airport (originally built in 1947) to be used solely as a cargo terminal, was the last step of the modernization project of Tocumen international airport. It included the redesign of the central building, the construction of new buildings for cargo companies among other improvements.[8]

Second phase[edit]

The second expansion phase of Tocumen International airport is the Northern Terminal. At a cost of USD 60 million, a completely new terminal with 12 additional terminal gates was built. With these 12 new gates plus the existing 22 gates and the six remote aircraft docks, there will be a total of 40 gates. The new facilities include platforms, taxiways and a new road which connect both the cargo terminal and the airport's administration building. The Muelle Norte is linked to the main passenger terminal and have 10 moving walkways for passengers and 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) commercial areas. The luggage sorting system was expanded to accommodate increased demand. The tender for the design of the second phase was given to Ecuador-based Planman Cia Ltda. Colombia-based Aerotocumen won the tender of the construction of the North Terminal.

Third phase[edit]

The South Terminal started a bidding process during the first half of 2012 and the contract was acquired by the Brazilian company Odebrecht. Tocumen S.A. made an investment of US$780 million, which includes 20 additional gates. It includes the construction of a new terminal, hundreds of parking spots, Tocumen river diversion, and four new direct-access lanes to the airport. The terminal will have gates able to accommodate the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747 as well. It is expected for it to boost international traffic by attracting new airlines and increasing its operations. The new terminal is scheduled to open in 2018.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Copa Airlines aircraft at Tocumen International Airport
Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 at Tocumen International Airport
KLM McDonnell Douglas MD-11 at Tocumen International Airport
An Iberia Airbus A340-600 aircraft landing at Tocumen International Airport from Barajas.


Airlines Destinations
Aeroméxico Mexico City
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson[9]
Air China Beijing Capital International Airport (Begins March 2018)[10]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
American Airlines Miami
American Eagle Miami
Avior Airlines Valencia (VE)
Avianca Bogotá
Avianca Costa Rica San José (CR)
Avianca Ecuador Bogotá
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador
Conviasa Caracas
Copa Airlines Aruba, Asunción, Belize City, Belo Horizonte–Confins, Bogotá, Boston, Brasilia, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cancún, Caracas, Cartagena de Indias, Chicago–O'Hare, Chiclayo, Córdoba, Curaçao, David, Denver (begins December 11, 2017),[11] Fort Lauderdale, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Guadalajara, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, Holguín, Kingston–Norman Manley, Las Vegas, Liberia (CR), Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Manaus, Maracaibo, Mendoza, Mexico City, Miami, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Montevideo, Montreal–Trudeau, Nassau, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Orlando, Port-au-Prince, Port of Spain, Porto Alegre, Punta Cana, Quito, Recife, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Rosario, San Francisco, San José (CR), San Juan, San Salvador, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz de la Sierra–Viru Viru, Santiago de Chile, Santo Domingo, São Paulo–Guarulhos, St. Maarten, Tampa, Tegucigalpa, Toronto–Pearson, Valencia (VE), Washington–Dulles
Copa Airlines Colombia Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena de Indias, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Medellín–JMC, Pereira, Punta Cana, Quito, San Andrés Island, San José (CR), San Pedro Sula, Santiago de los Caballeros
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Estelar Latinoamerica Caracas, Maracaibo (All suspended)[12]
Iberia Madrid
KLM Amsterdam
LASER Airlines Caracas, Maracaibo
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal Charter: Warsaw-Chopin (begins December 25, 2017)[13]
Lufthansa Frankfurt
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
Turpial Airlines Valencia (VE)
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
Venezolana Caracas, Maracaibo


Airlines Destinations
AeroSucre Bogotá
Amerijet International Miami
Avianca Cargo Bogotá
Centurion Air Cargo Miami
DHL Aviation
operated by DHL Aero Expreso
Aruba, Curaçao, Guatemala City, Miami, San José de Costa Rica, San Juan
DHL de Guatemala Guatemala City
FedEx Express Memphis, San José de Costa Rica
LATAM Cargo Brasil Fortaleza, Guayaquil, Manaus, Miami, Quito
LATAM Cargo Mexico Guadalajara, Mexico City
Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas Bogotá
Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos Miami, Santa Cruz de la Sierra-Viru Viru
UPS Airlines Louisville
Vensecar Internacional Caracas


Annual traffic[edit]

Annual traffic
Year Passengers Passengers using ICAO methodology (2015)  % Change  % Change using ICAO methodology values (2015) Cargo  % Change Movements  % Change
2003 2,145,489 11.5% 85,508 - 43,980 -
2004[14] 2,398,443 11.8% 96,215 12.5% 45,703 3.9%
2005 2,756,948 15% 103,132 19.6% 47,873 4.6%
2006[15] 3,215,423 16.6% 82,186 -20.3% 53,853 12.7%
2007[16] 3,805,312 18.3% 82,463 0.3% 61,400 14.0%
2008[17] 4,549,170 19.5% 86,588.8 4.8% 73,621 19.9%
2009[18] 4,748,621 6,531,927 4.4% 83,513 -3.8% 80,330 9.1%
2010[19] 5,042,410 7,005,031 6.2% 7.2% 98,565 18.0% 84,113 4.7%
2011[20] 5,844,561 8,271,459 15.9% 18.1% 110,946 12.6% 93,710 11.4%
2012[21] 6,962,608 10,174,870 19.1% 23.0% 116,332 4.9% 110,206 17.6%
2013[22] 7,784,328 11,586,681 11.8% 13.9% 110,186 -5.3% 121,356 10.1%
2014[23] 8,536,342 12,782,167 9.7% 10.3% 110,789 0.5% 135,406 11.5%
2015[24] 8,913,501 13,434,673 4.4% 5.1% 96,902 -12.5% 141,642 4.6%
2016[25] 14,741,937 9.7% 110,364 13.9% 145,245 2.54%

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest international routes out of Tocumen International Airport (2016)[26]
Rank City Passengers Airlines
1 Colombia Bogotá, Colombia 862,188 Avianca, Avianca Ecuador, Copa, Copa Colombia
2 Costa Rica San José de Costa Rica 782,812 Avianca Costa Rica, Copa, Copa Colombia
3 United States Miami, Florida 703,406 American, Copa
4 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela 578,494 Avior Airlines, Conviasa, Copa, LASER Airlines, SBA, Venezolana
5 Cuba Havana, Cuba 562,788 Copa
6 Mexico Cancun, Mexico 520,898 Copa
7 Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 495,006 Copa, Aeroméxico
8 Chile Santiago de Chile, Chile 469,686 Copa
9 Peru Lima, Peru 460,145 Copa
10 Brazil São Paulo, Brazil 404,657 Copa
11 Ecuador Guayaquil, Ecuador 391,988 Copa, Copa Airlines Colombia
12 Colombia Medellín, Colombia 381,505 Copa, Copa Colombia
13 United States Orlando, Florida 377,306 Copa
14 Ecuador Quito, Ecuador 363,255 Avianca Ecuador, Copa, Copa Airlines Colombia
15 Dominican Republic Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 360,949 Copa
16 Dominican Republic Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 337,820 Copa, Copa Airlines Colombia
17 United States New York, New York 322,185 Copa
18 United States Los Angeles, California 295,608 Copa
19 Guatemala Guatemala City, Guatemala 261,479 Copa, Copa Colombia
20 Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina 248,573 Copa


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

  1. ^ Airport information for MPTO at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
  2. ^ Airport information for Tocumen International Airport at Search (for) Travel website.
  3. ^ "History of Tocumen Airport". Tocumen Airport Panama. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  4. ^ Thompson, Chuck (2015-08-14). "World's longest nonstop flight announced". CNN. Retrieved 2015-08-14. 
  5. ^ "Flights to Panama City". Emirates. 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2016-01-12. 
  6. ^ "General Information of Tocumen Airport". Tocumen Airport Panama. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2015-05-12. 
  7. ^ "Admirals Club Lounge | Airline Clubs And Lounges | American Airlines". American Airlines. 2015-04-25. Retrieved 2015-04-25. 
  8. ^ "Expansion Plan of Tocumen Airport". Tocumen Airport Panama. 010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-01.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2004 Website
  15. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2006 Website
  16. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2007 Website
  17. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2008 Website
  18. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2009 Website
  19. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2010 Website
  20. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2011 Website
  21. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2012 Website
  22. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2013 Website
  23. ^ Reporte Estadístico 2014 Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen
  24. ^ Memoria Anual 2015
  25. ^ Reporte Estadístico 2016
  26. ^ Reporte Estadístico 2016

External links[edit]

Media related to Tocumen International Airport at Wikimedia Commons