Piarco International Airport

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Piarco International Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of Trinidad and Tobago
OperatorAirports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
LocationPiarco, Tunapuna–Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago
Opened8 January 1931 (91 years ago) (1931-01-08)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL58 ft / 18 m
Coordinates10°35′43″N 061°20′14″W / 10.59528°N 61.33722°W / 10.59528; -61.33722Coordinates: 10°35′43″N 061°20′14″W / 10.59528°N 61.33722°W / 10.59528; -61.33722
POS is located in Trinidad and Tobago
Location in Trinidad and Tobago
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 10,500 3,200 Asphalt
Statistics (2019)
International Passengers1,941,141
Domestic Passengers981,862
Total passengers[3]2,923,003
Sources: Aerodrome charts[4] DAFIF[5]

Piarco International Airport (IATA: POS, ICAO: TTPP) is an international airport serving the island of Trinidad and is one of two international airports in Trinidad and Tobago. The airport is located 30 km (19 mi) east of Downtown Port of Spain, located in the adjacent town of Piarco. It is the seventh busiest airport in the Caribbean in terms of passengers served[6] and third busiest in the English-speaking Caribbean, after Sangster International Airport and Lynden Pindling International Airport. The airport is also the primary hub and operating base for the country's national airline, as well as the Caribbean's largest airline, Caribbean Airlines.

Piarco International Airport has direct scheduled service to destinations in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America and Europe. It is also a significant transit hub for the Southern Caribbean and serves as the primary connection point for many passengers travelling from Guyana.


The Piarco Airport opened on 8 January 1931, to serve Venezuela's Compagnie Generale Aeropostale. Before this, the Queen's Park Savannah, the Mucurapo Field, and the Cocorite Docks (for flying boats) were used as airstrips to serve the island.

In World War II the original airfield was used to house the Royal Navy Observer School HMS Goshawk. In 1942 it was also used by both the United States Army Air Forces Sixth Air Force and United States Navy air squadrons. The airport was used both as a transport airfield and also for anti submarine patrol flights over the south Caribbean. It was returned to civil control after the war ended.

In World War II the United States Army Air Forces Sixth Air Force stationed the following units at the airport performing anti submarine patrols:

Modern day[edit]

A major expansion of the airport, which included the construction of a new terminal building, and high-speed taxiways, was completed in 2001. The old airport building is currently used for cargo handling. Piarco International Airport is also the primary hub and operating base of Caribbean Airlines and was also the primary hub and operating base of the now defunct BWIA West Indies Airways and Air Caribbean. Briko Air Services And Aerial World Services operate a flight school at the airport.[citation needed]

In 2006 the Airports Authority of Trinidad And Tobago commissioned a study for land use planning and urban development planning. All-Inclusive Project Development Services Limited was commissioned to conduct the study. The study was completed in October 2007 and approved by the Board. In 2011, work on the infrastructure of the North Aviation Business Park began. It is completed in 2013.[citation needed]

In December 2019, the European Union awarded the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago a grant of 1.5 million euros to finance the installation of a large-scale solar panel system at the Piarco International Airport, where ground-mounted solar panels will be installed with an annual generation capacity of 1,443,830 kWh and potentially avoid 1,010 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

In 2021, Piarco International Airport was named best airport in the Caribbean and 3rd best in the Caribbean and Latin American Regions.[7]


Apron view
Main atrium
Check-in area

At Piarco International Airport there are two high-speed taxiways and three connector taxiways (ICAO Code F for new large aircraft). This technologically state of the art airport has 82 ticket counter positions that operate under SITA's fibre-optic C.U.T.E. system which exceeds the recommended standards of ICAO and IATA. It also has a Flight Information Display System, which serves all airport users and a Baggage Information Display System.

The terminal is a fully air-conditioned, smoke-free building, equipped to handle peak-hour passenger traffic of 1,500 processing passengers through a fully computerised immigration system. The Customs Hall has four baggage/cargo carousels.

An administrative/operations building for the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard is being constructed at the Piarco Air Base. Also, a military airfield will be constructed near the air base.

The control tower at the old terminal building is currently used for air traffic control. The tower at the new terminal building is used for ramp control and runway movement control. A new nine-story control tower was opened in 2011.

Piarco International Airport apron

The new North Terminal consists of 35,964 m2 (387,110 sq ft) of building with 14 second-level aircraft gates for international flights and 2 ground-level domestic gates. The overall layout of the building consists of three main elements: a landside core structure, a single-level duty-free shopping mall, and a 2-level 'Y' shaped concourse. 100-foot (30 m) cathedral ceilings and glass walls provide passengers and other visitors to the North Terminal with a sense of open space and magnificent views of the Piarco savannah and the nearby Northern Range mountains. The public atrium has the largest glass dome in the Caribbean[citation needed]

The airport is also large enough to accommodate most international widebody airliners including the Boeing 747, Airbus A330-300, Boeing 777, Boeing 767 and the Airbus A340. Piarco International is capable of medium-sized aircraft including the Boeing 737, Boeing 757, Airbus A320, Embraer 190 as well as small aircraft such as the DeHavilland Dash 8, ATR 72 and other such turboprop aircraft. The airport layout consists of one main terminal building which includes three concourses. These concourses are not strictly identified as their name depicts but are divided into the following areas; Gates 1–7, Gates 8–14, and gates 8-14 specifically serve Caribbean Airlines and the Tobago concourse which serves flights to Tobago.

The Air Guard of Trinidad and Tobago is based at Piarco International Airport.[8] During the existence of BWIA West Indies, its head office was on the airport property.[9]

The disused south terminal has been renovated into a VIP terminal for the Summit of The Americas. The North terminal has also received additional remote parking stands. In November 2009, upgrades on the south terminal were completed and the area now serves as a private/executive jet facility for high-end travellers.[10]

The Airport underwent expansion and renovation works in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in November 2009. These improvements included:

  • Repaving and repainting of the taxiways.
  • Re-painting of the runway.
  • Installation of new Taxiway and runway lighting.


Piarco International Airport has two terminals. The south terminal was once the passenger terminal for the airport but has been renovated to serve as an executive terminal. It serves cargo flights, general aviation and helicopter flights. It has fourteen parking positions as well as light aircraft parking.[11] In addition it has the Airports Administration Centre, the head office of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.[12] The North terminal is the main passenger terminal. It handles all the commercial passenger airline traffic. The north terminal has twenty-nine parking positions.

Caribbean Airlines jet at POS Airport

In addition to passenger airlines, the airport also handles cargo traffic, general aviation, military and helicopter flights to the many oil rigs present offshore.

Inside POS boarding area

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Canada Toronto–Pearson
American Airlines Miami
British Airways London–Gatwick, St. Lucia–Hewanorra
Caribbean Airlines Antigua, Barbados, Caracas, Castries, Curaçao, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Fort Lauderdale, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Georgetown–Correira, Grenada, Havana, Kingston–Norman Manley, Houston–Intercontinental,[13] Miami, New York–JFK, Orlando, Paramaribo, St. Maarten, St. Vincent–Argyle, Tobago, Toronto–Pearson
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
JetBlue Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK
KLM Amsterdam
Surinam Airways Curaçao, Paramaribo
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
WestJet Toronto–Pearson


Ameriflight San Juan
Amerijet International Miami
Caribbean Airlines Cargo Barbados, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Miami
DHL Aero Expreso Barbados, Curaçao, Panama City–Tocumen
Mountain Air Cargo Aguadilla
Northern Air Cargo Miami

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 22 August 1942 – a Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra operated by KLM West-Indisch Bedrijf crashed shortly after takeoff, about 2 miles from the airport, killing all 13 people on board.[14]
  • 5 January 1963 – A Cessna Skywagon carrying two Swedish persons, Torgny Sommelius (Pilot) and actor Erik Strandmark, crash landed and caught fire at Piarco, killing them.[15]
  • 28 November 1963 – a Convair CV-340 operated by Avensa was hijacked by six armed people shortly after taking off from Ciudad Bolívar, with the destination of Caracas. They forced the pilot to circle Ciudad Bolívar and ordered them to droppamphlets urging the Venezuelan public to avoid voting in the upcoming elections. After that they demanded to be flown to Piarco, where they surrendered.[16]
  • 29 July 1984 – An Aeropostal DC-9 flight from Caracas to Curaçao with 87 persons on board was hijacked in the air by 5 gunmen and forced to land at Piarco. The Trinidad and Tobago Government refused to negotiate with the hijackers and the aircraft departed hours later.[17] 36 hours later, Venezuelan counter-terrorist troops stormed the plane and rescued the hostages with two of the hijackers killed during gunfire.[18]
  • 17 January 1990 – A male American tourist stripped himself, jumped a fence that led into the airport tarmac, then stole a car and crashed it into a British Airways Boeing 747. After that he threw himself into the engine of the plane, resulting in his death.[19][20][21]
  • 18 April 2005 – Tobago Express Dash 8–300 made an emergency landing after the nose wheel section of the landing gear failed to deploy with multiple attempts. There were no deaths reported among the 46 passengers and 3 crew members, although some had panic attacks.[22]
  • October 2007 – Both Piarco and what was then known as the Crown Point International Airport (now the Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport) were shut down for at least 2 days due to failed negotiations with the airport staff for better working wages. All flights operated through Piarco and Crown Point were cancelled, severely disrupting passengers travelling to Caribbean and International destinations.
  • 2007 – A Caribbean Airlines flight from Norman Manley International Airport with stops at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados and the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten encountered smoke in the engine of a Boeing 737–800 upon arrival in Piarco. Auxiliary power was lost in the cabin, but there were no reports on injuries of the 84 passengers.
  • 15 August 2008 – An American Airlines Boeing 757–200 made an emergency landing after hydraulic system problems. The aircraft landed safely but the brakes locked up and the plane could not exit the runway. Passengers were ferried to the terminal and mechanics took some three hours to remove the aircraft, closing the airport to flight operations. No injuries were reported among the 188 passengers and seven-member crew.[23][24]
  • 2009 – Piarco and Crown Point International Airports suffered massive delays and cancellations after aircraft fuel plagued with massive amounts of sulphur was discovered, rendering the fuel unusable. Airlines to and from Piarco and Crown Point either cancelled or delayed their flights.
  • 14 July 2010 – An American Airlines Boeing 767–300 operating flight 1668 to Miami International was forced to make an emergency landing at the field following a bird strike. No Injuries or deaths were reported among the 212 passengers and crew.
  • 12 August 2011 – A North American Airlines plane was on approach near the Airport just after 2pm when the pilots reported smoke coming from the cockpit. The aircraft managed to land safely at the airport with no injuries.
  • 19 October 2021 - An Aerial World Services Ltd Diamond DA40 Diamond Star crashed under unknown circumstances near Piarco while approaching the airport. Both occupants (a flight instructor and flight student) were injured.[25]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weather at the Piarco Airport, WeatherCast UK
  2. ^ Station Information Listing, NOAA
  3. ^ "The Airports". TnTAirports.com. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  4. ^ Trinidad and Tobago charts Archived 8 July 2012 at archive.today
  5. ^ "World Aero Data: PIARCO – TTPP". Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  6. ^ List of the busiest airports in the Caribbean
  7. ^ "Best Airports 2021 by Global Region".
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 23 March 1999. 66. Retrieved on 30 September 2009. "Administration Building, Golden Grove Road, Piarco International Airport, PO Box 604, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago"
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Trinidad Express.
  11. ^ "Airports Authority Of Trinidad And Tobago – Piarco". Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Contact Us Archived 20 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine." Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved on 12 January 2011. "Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago Airports Administration Centre Piarco International Airport South Terminal Golden Grove Road, Piarco."
  13. ^ "Caribbean Airlines to launch direct flights to Houston, Texas".
  14. ^ Ranter, Harro (22 August 1942). "ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed 14-WF62 Super Electra PJ-AIP Port of Spain-Piarco Airport (POS)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 29 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Letter: Accident at Piarco Airport in 1963, Caribbean Net News
  16. ^ Ranter, Harro (28 November 1963). "ASN Aircraft accident Convair CV-340 or CV-440 registration unknown Port of Spain-Piarco Airport (POS)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 30 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Venezuelan jetliner hijackers demand military weapons, Associated Press (Archives).
  18. ^ Ap (1 August 1984). "Commandos Kill Hijackers in Freeing Jet in Curacao". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  19. ^ "American Killed When He Jumps Into Jet's Engine". Los Angeles Times. 17 January 1990. Retrieved 29 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Nichols, Mike (18 January 1990). "MAN KILLED BY A JET ENGINE LACKED MEDICINE, FRIEND SAYS". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 29 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Caliopes (24 April 2019). ""Bizarre death at Piarco! Visitor minced to bits by jet engine."". Medium. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  22. ^ "Tobago Express makes crash landing in Trinidad". Caribbean Net News. 20 April 2005. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008.
  23. ^ American Airline problem forces closure of Trinidad runway[permanent dead link], Jamaica Observer.[dead link]
  24. ^ "Flight 1818 Emergency landing in Trinidad 15 Aug 2008". FlyerTalk Forums. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Incident Diamond DA40 Diamond Star 9Y-TJU, 19 Oct 2021".
  26. ^ Staff writer (2006). "The Caribbean's Leading Airport 2006". World Travel Awards. Retrieved 16 December 2011.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit]