Punta Cana International Airport

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Punta Cana International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional Punta Cana
Punta Cana International Airport logo.png
Punta Cana (PUJ - MDPC) AN1562239.jpg
Airport typePublic-private
Owner/OperatorPunta Cana Resort and Club/Grupo Punta Cana
ServesPunta Cana, Higüey, Bávaro
LocationPunta Cana in La Altagracia Province, Dominican Republic
OpenedDecember 17, 1983
Elevation AMSL40 ft / 12.2 m
Coordinates18°34′00″N 68°21′07″W / 18.56667°N 68.35194°W / 18.56667; -68.35194Coordinates: 18°34′00″N 68°21′07″W / 18.56667°N 68.35194°W / 18.56667; -68.35194
PUJ/ MDPC is located in the Dominican Republic
Location of airport in Dominican Republic
Direction Length Surface
ft m
08/26 10,171 3,100 Asphalt, concrete
09/27 10,171 3,100 Asphalt, concrete
Statistics (2020)
Total Passengers2,026,584
Aircraft Operations15,324
Source: Banco Central República Dominicana
1 Runway 08/26 Main runway.
2 Runway 09/27 back up runway.

Punta Cana International Airport (IATA: PUJ, ICAO: MDPC) is a privately owned commercial airport in Punta Cana, eastern Dominican Republic. The airport was built with open-air terminals and roofs covered in palm fronds. Grupo Punta Cana built the airport, which was designed by architect Oscar Imbert, and inaugurated it in December 1983.[1] It is owned by Grupo Punta Cana and became the first privately owned international airport in the world.[2]

The airport is the busiest in the Dominican Republic, and the second-busiest of the Caribbean, only behind Puerto Rico's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. In 2018, more than 7.8 million passengers (arrivals and departures combined) passed through the terminals that year, with almost 50,000 commercial aircraft operations.[3] In 2014, the airport accounted for 60% of all air arrivals in the Dominican Republic.[4] The airport serves 90 airports in 26 countries.[5]


Aerial view
Apron view. American 757, First Choice and Condor 767 can be seen.
Rental car facility

Former airstrip[edit]

The history of aviation in the Punta Cana region started in 1971, when Grupo PuntaCana built the first hotel in the area, called "Punta Cana Club", along with a small airstrip. There were no terminals and no runway; it was just a flat piece of land. The only problem was that the area was very secluded from the rest of the Dominican Republic. Also, many more people were starting to go to Punta Cana for vacation, with more and more small cabins being built. Since there were no roads nor harbors, the only way to get into Punta Cana was by air.[1]

In the late 1970s a road was built to connect the area with the capital of La Altagracia Province, Higüey. Tourists from various countries started to come in. They had to pass through Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo, then take a short flight in a small plane to Punta Cana. The airstrip itself had significant problems, such as having a very short runway and still no terminal. This meant passengers would exit their plane and be directed onto a road to be picked up to ride to their hotel, which was inconvenient. Grupo PuntaCana knew it needed a real airport.

Planning and construction[edit]

In late 1974, Grupo PuntaCana started to plan the first private international airport. However, the local government disapproved of the new airport. After eight full years of arguing with the province, a contract was made to begin construction on the new airport. The airport would be built where the old airstrip stood. In early 1981 planning started on the airport. Oscar Imbert (son of General Antonio Imbert) was chosen as architect. He wanted the terminal architecture to be based on Native American Tainos and Arawak structures. At the same time, he wanted to give the passengers a paradise feeling. The problem was that the planners did not want to pay for expensive air conditioning. The solution to this problem was to build the terminal in such a way that the coastal breezes from the Caribbean Sea would come in and cool down the passengers. The terminal building was planned to have palm fronds for the roof, and stone from the nearby jungles for the walls. For the columns, they would use eucalyptus logs and build them in Taíno and Arawak styles.

Construction on the new airport started in early 1982, and the small airstrip had to close down. To substitute for the loss, a small concrete airstrip was made into a temporary airport. This strip would turn into a runway when the airport opened. Since the terminal was small and there was not a lot of construction needed, the terminal was completed in under four months. The runway and tarmac took a long time since there were not many construction workers building the airport. The area was secluded, which dissuaded many construction workers from trying to build the airport. However, after eight years of persuading the government, and two more years of construction, the airport began operations on 17 December 1983.


The airport started out with a 5,000 foot (1,500 m) runway, which could fit larger propeller planes. The building was 300 square metres (3,200 sq ft) in area, and could assist 150 passengers every hour and a half.[citation needed] The small control tower also began operation.

In January 1984, Punta Cana had its first international flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, operated by the Puerto Rican airline, Prinair. The aircraft was a small double turbo propeller aircraft with 20 passengers. In 1984, the airport received 2,976 passengers.[2]

With a proper airport, many new hotels were built. As a result, this brought an increased demand to bring jet aircraft to Punta Cana, since the airport would have to accommodate more people. This led to the airport's first expansion in 1986. The runway was extended to 7,500 feet (2,300 m), and there was a small expansion in the check-in area of the terminal, along with the renovation of the terminal. The tarmac was also expanded to accommodate jet aircraft, and the control tower had new radar systems added to it. This expansion allowed many more aircraft to land at the airport. In 1987, the first route between Punta Cana and the United States began, with Miami International Airport.[1]

During this time, new airlines from around the Caribbean started to fly here. There were only about four airlines in 1988. All of these small airlines were regional, coming from different parts of the Caribbean. The second expansion was added in 1988, with the addition of a new taxiway. In 1989, the first private jets started to fly to the airport. There were only about four airlines in 1988. All of these small airlines were regional, coming from different parts of the Caribbean. Towards the end of 1989, another expansion started to extend the runway to 10,171 feet (3,100 m). This expansion was completed in late 1990.[citation needed]


The 1990s brought a major change to the airport. Now that the runway was 10,171 feet (3,100 m), long-haul jets could fly there. Some of the first airlines to fly charters to Punta Cana during this time were Monarch Airlines and Air Belgium in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Condor was expanding rapidly, following the addition of their new Boeing 767s and one of its new destinations from Frankfurt was Punta Cana.

These became the first routes from Europe and the first long-haul routes in the airport's history. Around the same time, LTU International started a route from Berlin. Many airlines around the Caribbean stopped operations to the airport, as a result of the new long-haul flights. In 1993, the airline Hapag-Lloyd Flug began a route from Düsseldorf. Air Transat began a route from Montréal, which became the first route from Canada. In 1994, American Airlines started operations to Miami International Airport. The same year, Lauda Air began operations from Vienna. The Dutch wanted a route to Punta Cana, so in January 1995, Martinair began operations from Amsterdam Schiphol. ATA Airlines started to fly to Midway International Airport in early 1996. In October 1996, the Chilean airline Lan Chile began to fly 767s from Bogota and Santiago.[citation needed]

Over time, more airlines from Europe, Canada, and the US began operations to Punta Cana. The late 1990s saw many new European charter carriers such as Britannia Airways, Air Europe, and Iberworld. There was increasing demand for an expansion, as the tarmac was not big enough to fit all of the new jet aircraft. This was becoming a major problem, as new airlines could not introduce new routes unless the airport expanded.

Towards the end of 1998, the tarmac was extremely busy and dangerous, due to aircraft having to taxi down the runway and turn before departure. The need to backtaxi created dangerous conditions with the volume of traffic, and sometimes resulted in considerable delays as other aircraft waited to enter the runway. The rapid growth of the airport's route network was too excessive for the small airport. As the number of passengers grew, Grupo PuntaCana planned a massive expansion, which began in 1999.


In 2000, after the completion of the expansion, the terminal was renovated and expanded to twice its original size to 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft). A long taxiway was added to prevent a collision on the runway, and the tarmac was expanded to fit six aircraft. This expansion was completed in 2001, and airline growth continued.

During this time, Punta Cana was drastically changing, with the addition of new hotels, malls, and infrastructure. Many people were flying to Punta Cana annually, and once again the airport was crowded by 2002. A new parking lot was built along with the new PuntaCana Village. By 2003, there was a small expansion of the terminal and the tarmac was expanded to allow seven aircraft to park. This was also the year the Grupo Puntacana had begun the planning of a second runway.

In 2004, Terminal 2 opened, the second terminal at the airport.[3] As many old charter carriers from the 1990s began to cease operations to the airport, each new year brought new airlines and destinations. Several prominent leisure carriers such as Transaero, Pullmantur Air, and Corsairfly started operations with large aircraft such as the Boeing 747.

In 2011, a new second runway was opened, which permitted more long-haul flights from countries like France, England, and Brazil with large planes such as the Boeing 747-400, the Boeing 777, and the Airbus A340.[6][7] With this expansion, the airport became the first in the Caribbean to have two runways longer than 10,000 feet. Along with the new runway, a new control tower, Terminal Approach Radar Control facility and a new Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS) were all presented.[8]

In November 2014, Terminal B was officially inaugurated.[9][10] This terminal uses jet bridges, the first terminal at the airport to use them. The new terminal is also completely enclosed, unlike the other terminals at the airport.

In November 2017, a new VIP lounge opened, which included a pool.[11][12]



International Check-in area

The airport has five terminals:[2]

  • International Terminals A and B - international commercial passenger travel
  • FBO Terminal - executive general aviation
  • National Terminal - serves national charter and general aviation flights
  • VIP Terminal - private terminal including an aircraft parking apron

Terminal B was built with seven airbridges, three being for wide-body aircraft. This new terminal was completed in 2014 and can comfortably accommodate 6,500 travelers daily and over 2 million travelers annually.[9]

U.S. preclearance[edit]

Plans were underway for a U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance station to be opened at the airport by the end of summer 2009;[13] however, this has not yet begun.[14] According to Frank Rainieri, president of Grupo Puntacana, negotiations have re-opened (as of June 2015) and he anticipates that this airport will be the first in Latin America to offer such preclearance service.[15] As of December 2020, the preclearance station is still planned, but is waiting to receive authorization from the Dominican Government to begin construction.[16]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo[17]
Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires–Ezeiza
Air Belgium Brussels (begins 15 December 2021)[18]
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Québec City (resumes 5 December 2021)[19]
Air Caraibes Paris–Orly
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Transat Toronto–Pearson
American Airlines Austin, Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York–JFK
Avianca Bogota, Medellin
Azur Air Ukraine Seasonal charter: Kyiv-Boryspil
British Airways London–Gatwick
Condor Frankfurt
Seasonal charter: Düsseldorf, Munich[20]
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Corsair International Seasonal: Paris-Orly (resumes 11 December 2021)[21]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Eurowings Discover Frankfurt, Munich (begins 26 May 2022)[22]
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland (resumes 19 December 2021), Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Atlanta (begins 18 December 2021),[23] St. Louis, San Juan
Gol Transportes Aéreos São Paulo–Guarulhos[24]
GullivAir Seasonal charter: Bucharest, Sofia
Iberojet Madrid
Seasonal: Barcelona (begins June 27, 2022),[25] Lisbon
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK, Newark, San Juan
LATAM Perú Lima
Level Seasonal: Barcelona (resumes 4 December 2021)[26]
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal charter: Katowice, Prague,[27][28] Warsaw–Chopin, Vilnius
Prinair Charter: Aguadilla
Luke Air Seasonal charter: Prague, Warsaw–Chopin
Nordwind Airlines Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Seasonal charter: Novosibirsk, Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Yekaterinburg
RUTACA Airlines Caracas
Sky Airline Peru Lima (begins January 3, 2022)[29]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway (resumes March 12, 2022), Fort Lauderdale (resumes 17 February 2022)[30]
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
Sunwing Airlines Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Bagotville (begins 9 December 2021),[31] Deer Lake (begins March 16, 2022),[32] Fredericton (begins 9 February 2022),[32] Gander (begins March 16, 2022),[32] Halifax (begins 14 January 2022),[32] London (ON) (begins 15 December 2021),[33] Moncton (begins 12 February 2022),[32] Regina (begins 15 December 2021),[34] Saskatoon (begins 15 December 2021),[34] St. John's (begins 14 March 2022),[32] Thunder Bay (begins 15 December 2021)[35]
TAP Air Portugal Seasonal: Lisbon (resumes 11 December 2021)[36]
TUI Airways Birmingham, London–Gatwick, Manchester
TUI fly Belgium Brussels
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Westjet Toronto–Pearson
Wingo Bogota, Medellin
World2fly Madrid


Busiest international routes from PUJ (2020)[37]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Canada Toronto-Pearson, Canada 192,654 Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, WestJet
2 Canada Montréal-Trudeau, Canada 148,392 Air Canada Rouge
3 Panama Panama City, Panama 85,450 Copa Airlines
4 United States Miami, United States 72,693 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines
5 United States Atlanta, United States 66,066 Delta Air Lines
6 France Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France 65,541 Air France
7 United States New York–John F. Kennedy, United States 64,252 American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue
8 United States Newark, United States 59,742 JetBlue, United Airlines
9 Peru Lima, Peru 56,462 LATAM Perú
10 United States Chicago-O'Hare, United States 53,376 Frontier Airlines
11 Spain Madrid, Spain 48,818 Air Europa
12 United States Fort Lauderdale, United States 45,697 JetBlue, Spirit Airlines
13 United Kingdom London-Gatwick, United Kingdom 44,158 British Airways, TUI Airways
14 Russia Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Russia 44,015 Nordwind Airlines
15 Colombia Bogotá, Colombia 43,202 Avianca, Wingo
16 United States Charlotte, United States 40,605 American Airlines
17 Germany Frankfurt, Germany 36,729 Condor
18 United States Minneapolis–Saint Paul, United States 34,793 Delta Air Lines
19 Canada Québec, Canada 32,979 Sunwing Airlines
20 France Paris-Orly, France 32,538 Air Caraïbes

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On May 22, 2005, a Skyservice 767-300 suffered from a fracture in the upper fuselage and damaged landing gear after experiencing a hard landing and bouncing multiple times following a flight from Toronto. There were a few injuries but no fatalities among the 318 occupants of the aircraft and it was repaired and returned to service.[38]
  • On October 13, 2014, the engine of a Jetstream Bae 32 aircraft belonging to Air Century Airlines caught fire while landing after a charter flight from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airplane crew declared an emergency and landed the aircraft at 20:45 local time, after a 49-minute flight, but the plane was destroyed in a subsequent fire. There were no injuries among the 13 passengers and two crew members.[39]
  • On February 10, 2016, Orenair flight 554 to Moscow Domodedovo Airport reported an engine fire and smoke in the cabin. The crew decided to turn around and land the aircraft, without dumping fuel, rather circling around the airport. Upon landing the overweight aircraft, the landing gear overheated and caught fire, and the aircraft was evacuated. There were no injuries among the 371 occupants of the Boeing 777 and it remained grounded at the airport for 10 months, leaving in December 2016.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Nuesta Historia (Our history)" (PDF). Grupopuntacana.com. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Airport Tech Data" (PDF). Puntacanainternationalairport.com. March 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Punta Cana Airport Information". Puntacanainternationalairport.com. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014.
  4. ^ Major, Brian (22 January 2015). "North Americans Drove Dominican Republic's Record 2014 Tourism Growth". TravelPulse.
  5. ^ "Punta Cana International Airport Official Website". PuntaCanaInternationalAirport.com. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Grupo PuntaCana inaugura nueva pista en el Aeropuerto Internacional". Arecoa.com (in Spanish). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Construyen una nueva pista de aterrizaje en Punta Cana". Hoy Digital. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Nuestra Historia". Punta Cana International Airport. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  9. ^ a b "PUJ is ready to inaugurate modern, convenient air travel with Terminal B". Puntacana Blogs. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Punta Cana International Airport Opens Brand-New Terminal". Caribbean Journal. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  11. ^ "PUNTA CANA AIRPORT VIP LOUNGE: AN INSIDE LOOK". Loungebuddy.com. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  12. ^ Ballester, Marcelo (16 December 2018). "Aeropuerto Internacional de Punta Cana celebra 35 años liderando en RD". Online Punta Cana Bavaro (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Busiest Dominican airport to have U.S. Customs, Immigration station, Nuevo Diario reports". Dominicantoday.com. 25 July 2008. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009.
  14. ^ Newsdesk (2 December 2016). "United States, Dominican Republic Sign Agreement to Open Pre-clearance Facility in Punta Cana". Travel Agent Central. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Bavaro News; Year X; edition 287; page 4". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Rainieri: passenger preclearance would contribute US $ 1.2 billion to the DR". DominicanToday. 13 December 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  17. ^ https://www.aeroflot.com/ru-ru/news/62115
  18. ^ https://twitter.com/AirBelgiumFans/status/1441463342158188548[bare URL]
  19. ^ "Air Canada Launches Two New Connections to Florida and More Frequent Flights to Mexico and the Dominican Republic from Quebec City". aircanada.com. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  20. ^ https://www.aerotelegraph.com/condor-fliegt-im-winter-von-duesseldorf-und-muenchen-nach-punta-cana-sowie-ab-duesseldorf-nach-phuket
  21. ^ "France's Corsair increases flights to Punta Cana due to its success". Dominican Today. 5 September 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  22. ^ https://www.lufthansagroup.com/de/newsroom/meldungen/sommer-2022-sieben-zusaetzliche-touristische-langstreckenverbindungen-ab-frankfurt-und-muenchen.html
  23. ^ https://www.ajc.com/news/business/frontier-airlines-to-start-atlanta-flights-to-punta-cana/P4P76BHXWZAWLJQF4BYNZV2424/
  24. ^ "GOL will restart flights to Mexico and the Dominican Republic". Transponder1200 (in Spanish). August 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Iberojet announces flights from Barcelona to Cancun and Punta Cana". Aviacionline (in Spanish). November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  26. ^ "LEVEL announces reopening of its flights between Barcelona and Punta Cana". arecoa.com. 15 September 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  27. ^ "@flylot boeing 787 starts cooperation with @cdcedok. will operate flights to Maldives, Zanzibar and Dominican Republic". ch-aviation.com. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Tour schedule". Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  29. ^ "Keep up the expansion! SKY airline launches new route between Lima and Punta Cana". Transponder1200 (in Spanish). October 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  30. ^ https://www.swamedia.com/releases/release-66d1c9ae7fd4aa2df09a33d5864c46ae-book-today-southwest-airlines-extends-flight-schedule-through-april-24-2022
  31. ^ "Sunwing returns to Saguenay-Bagotville in Quebec with convenient weekly flights this winter". Sunwing Travel Group. June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  32. ^ a b c d e f "Sunwing announces winter flight schedule from regional gateways across Atlantic Canada". Sunwing Travel Group. June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Sunwing returns to London, Ontario for the 2021-2022 winter season with convenient weekly flights". Sunwing Travel Group. June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Sunwing announces convenient weekly flights from Regina and Saskatoon this winter". Intrado. June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Sunwing returns to Thunder Bay this winter with convenient flights to popular tropical destinations". Sunwing Travel Group. June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  36. ^ "TAP Air Portugal Announces A330neo Flights To Punta Cana". simpleflying.com. 18 June 2021. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  37. ^ http://www.jac.gob.do/transparencia/index.php/estadisticas/category/635-2020
  38. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-31KER C-GLMC Punta Cana Airport". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  39. ^ "Se incendia avión que despegó desde San Juan". El Nuevo Dia. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  40. ^ "Incident: Orenair B772 at Punta Cana on Feb 10th 2016, engine shut down in flight, burst tyre and smoke on landing". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Punta Cana International Airport at Wikimedia Commons