Punta Cana International Airport

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Punta Cana International Airport
Aeropuerto Internacional Punta Cana
Punta Cana International Airport logo.png
MDPC Airport.jpg
Airport type Public/Private
Owner/Operator Punta Cana Resort and Club/Grupo Punta Cana
Serves Punta Cana, Higuey
Location Punta Cana in La Altagracia Province, Dominican Republic
Opened December 17, 1983
Elevation AMSL 40 ft / 12.2 m
Coordinates 18°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
Website puntacanainternationalairport.com
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 (2015)
Passengers 6,366,552
Aircraft Operations (2013) 52,000
Source: Banco Central República Dominicana
1 Runway 08/26 All traffic.
2 Runway 09/27 Light traffic only.

Punta Cana International Airport (IATA: PUJICAO: MDPC) is a privately owned commercial airport in Punta Cana, eastern Dominican Republic. The airport is built in a traditional Dominican style with open-air terminals with their roofs covered in palm fronds. Grupo PuntaCana built the Punta Cana International Airport, which was designed by architect Oscar Imbert, and inaugurated it in December of 1983. It became the first privately owned international airport in the world.[1] A number of scheduled and charter airlines fly to Punta Cana. Currently more than 6.3 million passengers (arrivals and departures combined) pass through the terminals, moved by almost 60,000 commercial aircraft operations.[2] The operators of the airport, Corporación Aeroportuaria del Este, S.A. (a private corporation run by Puntacana Resort and Club),[1] expanded the facility in November 2011 with a new runway and Air Traffic Control tower designed to support the robust growth of travel to the region.

In 2014, the airport accounted for 60% of all air arrivals in the Dominican Republic.[3]


Former Airstrip[edit]

The history of aviation for the Punta Can region started in 1971. When Grupo PuntaCana built its first hotel. They also built a small airstrip, were aircraft could land. There was no terminals, 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 or nor harbors, the only way to get into Punta Cana was by air. In the late 1970s, a road was built, to connect the area with the capital of that province, Higüey. Even thought this made transportation easier, tourists from different countries started to come in. They would have to pass thought Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo, then take a short flight in a single-engine plane and then land in Punta Cana. The airstrip itself had many problems, such as a very short runway, no terminal. Which means passengers would must leave their plane and directed go off onto a road to be picked up to go their hotel. This was very inconvenient. Grupo PuntaCana knew it needed a real airport to replace it.

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 8 full years of arguing with the province, a contract was made to being construction on the new airport. The airport would be standing were the old airstrip stood. In early 1981 planning started on the airport. Oscar Imbert was chosen to be the architect of the new airport. He wanted the terminal architecture to be based on native American Taines and Arawak structures. At the same time, he wanted to give the passengers a paradise feeling. The problem is 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, the coastal breezes from the Caribbean Sea would come in and cool down the passengers. The terminal building was planned to have dead fronds a Cane Palms of the roof and for the walls, stone from the nearby jungles. For the coloums, they would use Eucalyptus logs.

Construction on the new airport started in early 1982, the small airstrip would have to close down. To substitute for the loss, a small concrete airstrip was made as a temporary airport. This concrete 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 4 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 8 years of persuading the government, and 2 more years of construction, the airport began operations on December 17th, 1983.


When the airport opened, it started out with a 5,000-foot runway, which would be able to fit larger propeller planes. The building was 300 square meters in area, and could assist 150 passengers every 1 and a half. The small control tower was also opened and started to be used. In January of 1984, Punta Cana had its first international flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The aircraft was a small double turbo propeller aircraft with 20 passengers. Its first year, 1984, received 2,976 passengers Now, with a proper airport, many new hotels were built during the time period. However, now that they were more hotels, more people wanted to fly to Punta Cana. There was an increased demand to bring jet aircraft to Punta Cana. This led to the airport's first expansion in 1987. The runway was expanded to 7,500 feet, along with a small expansion of the terminal. The tarmac was expanded to accommodate jet aircraft. The terminal was renovated and more check-in stands were built. This expansion allowed many more aircraft to land at the airport. The small control tower was also renovated, with new radar systems added in. However, large jet aircraft did not fly to Punta Cana until the early 1990s. During this time, new airlines from around the Carribean started to fly here. The second expansion was added in 1988, in which a new taxiway was added so it could be easier to get off the runway and onto the tarmac. 1989 was also the year that the first private jets started to fly to the airport. Towards the end of 1989, another expansion started to expand the runway to 10,171 feet. This expansion was completed in late 1990.


The 1990s was a major change to the airport. Now that the runway was 10,171 feet, long-haul jets could fly there. In late 1992, the airline Condor Flugdienst acquired several new Boeing 767s. During this time, the airline was expanding rapidly. One of its new destinations was Punta Cana. The airlines would fly from Frankfurt on a 10-hour flight. This became the first route from Europe, and the first long-haul route in the airport's history. Around the same time, LTU International started a route from Berlin. Also, many airlines around the Carribean stopped operations to the airport. Since now there were 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 of 1995, Martinair began operations from Amsterdam Schiphol. ATA Airlines started to fly to Midway International Airport in early 1996. During this time, the airport had begun to get crowded, however, to further expansion were done until 1998. Over time, more airlines from Europe, Canda, and the US began operations to Punta Cana. In 1997, 3 more airlines were added. Soon there was an 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. In 1998, two new airlines began operations. Towards the end of 1998, the tarmac was extremely busy, it was very dangerous too. Since the aircraft had to taxi on the runway itself, turn and then take off. There was a high risk of a collision on the runway if two planes were on it at the same time. Sometimes te narrow taxiways were so full, some airplanes had to wait 20 minutes before beginning to taxi to the runway. During 1999, only 1 airlines started to fly there, because the small airport was too crowded As the amount of passengers only escalated, Grupo PuntaCana had begun to plan the massive expansion. The expansion had begun in late 1999. The construction would end in late 2000.

Aircraft parked at several gates adjacent to Terminal 1


Departure lounge of Terminal Two at Punta Cana.jpg

The airport has five terminals: International Terminals A and B for international passenger travel; FBO Terminal, located west of terminal B, for executive general aviation, both national and international; National Terminal, located east of the FBO terminal, for national charter and general aviation; VIP Terminal, Located east of Terminal A, a private terminal including an aircraft parking apron. Punta Cana International Airport serves 96 cities in 28 countries.[4] Terminal B was built to hold larger aircraft like the Airbus A380 along with 7 airbridges, one being for the Airbus A380. This new terminal was completed in 2014 and can comfortably accommodate 6,500 travelers daily and over 2 million travelers annually.[5]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires-Ezeiza
Aerolíneas Mas Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo-La Isabela
Air Antilles Express Seasonal: Pointe-à-Pitre
Air Berlin Düsseldorf
Air Canada Seasonal: Halifax, Ottawa
Air Canada Rouge Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Air Transat Montréal-Trudeau, Québec City, Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Hamilton, London (ON), Moncton, Ottawa, Regina, Saskatoon, Sault Ste. Marie (begins December 22, 2017),[6] St. John's, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Vancouver (begins November 10, 2017),[6] Winnipeg
American Airlines Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Boston, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York-JFK
Apple Vacations Seasonal Charter: Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh
Avianca Bogotá
Avianca Ecuador Charter: Quito
Avianca Peru Lima
Azur Air Seasonal Charter: Moscow-Domodedovo, St. Petersburg
Azur Air (Germany) Charter: Berlin-Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Munich
British Airways London-Gatwick
Condor Frankfurt, Munich
Seasonal: Vienna
Copa Airlines Panama City
Copa Airlines Colombia Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, New York-JFK
Seasonal: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Eastern Air Lines Charter: Miami[7]
Edelweiss Air Zürich
operated by SunExpress Deutschland
Evelop Airlines Madrid
French Blue Paris-Orly
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Philadelphia
Gol Transportes Aéreos São Paulo–Guarulhos
Insel Air Curaçao
Insel Air Aruba Aruba
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York-JFK, San Juan
LATAM Chile Miami, Santiago de Chile
LATAM Perú Lima
Latin American Wings
operated by Chilejet
Charter: Santiago de Chile
operated by Iberia
Barcelona (begins 10 June 2017)[8]
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal Charter: Warsaw-Chopin
Magni Monterrey (begins July 8, 2017)[9]
Nordwind Seasonal Charter: Moscow-Sheremetyevo
operated by Evelop Airlines
Seasonal: Lisbon (begins 1 June 2017), Madrid
Rutaca Airlines Caracas
Rossiya Airlines Moscow- Vnukovo
Servicios Aéreos Profesionales Charter: Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, Holguin, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port of Spain, St. Maarten, Santo Domingo-Las Américas, Varadero
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Fort Lauderdale (begins 5 November 2017)[10]
Spirit Airlines Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sunwing Airlines Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson
TAME Charter: Quito
Thomas Cook Airlines Charter: Manchester (UK)
Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia Charter: Copenhagen, Stockholm
Thomson Airways Charter: Birmingham, London-Gatwick, Manchester
Travel Service Polska Seasonal Charter: Warsaw-Chopin
TUI fly Belgium Brussels
TUI fly Netherlands Seasonal charter: Amsterdam, Katowice, Warsaw, Poznań
United Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles
Vacation Express Seasonal charter: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Pittsburgh, Tampa
Wamos Air Madrid
WestJet Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Montreal-Trudeau, Ottawa
Wingo Bogota
XL Airways France Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse

Cargo Airlines[edit]

Airline Destinations
Solar Cargo Miami

Traffic and growth[edit]

Punta Cana's airport is the leading point of entry in the number of arriving passengers in the Dominican Republic. It is also the fastest growing airport with almost a 20% increase in traffic yearly, which indicates that in about 5 years the aircraft movements will double. At the moment the airport counts on two International Terminals; FBO Terminal, the main incline with 12 positions; National Terminal; and VIP Terminal.

In the Caribbean, Punta Cana International Airport is the 2nd busiest airport, after Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Cancun International Airport, Havana International Airport, and Punta Cana International Airport are the only airports in Latin America with direct flights to Russia. Punta Cana International Airport will also be the only airport in the Caribbean with flights to Tel-Aviv, Israel beginning October 7, 2016.


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest international routes from PUJ (2013)[11]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Toronto (YYZ) 315,533 Air Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, Sunwing, Westjet
2 Paris (CDG) 312,129 Air France, XL Airways
3 Atlanta (ATL) 294,513 Delta, Southwest
4 Miami (MIA) 251,183 American Airlines, Gol Transportes Aéreos
5 Panama City (PTY) 249,094 Copa Airlines, Copa Airlines Colombia
6 Montreal (YUL) 230,563 Air Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, Sunwing
7 Charlotte (CLT) 198,770 American Airlines
8 New York (JFK) 195,820 Delta, JetBlue
9 Moscow (DME) 180,018 Transaero
10 Newark (EWR) 156,594 United

Airport expansion[edit]

Punta Cana's Airport operators completed an ambitious airport expansion project in November 2011. The expansion includes a new runway, a control tower equipped with modern radio and air traffic control equipment. Additionally, there is a new Terminal Approach Radar Control facility and a new Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS). This new facility also provides a back-up to the National Radar System located in Santo Domingo. A second international terminal which opened in 2014 is designed to accommodate approx.6,500 passengers daily.

The operators plan to open a third terminal and renovate runway 09/27 while also constructing a Cargo Terminal.[3]

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,[12] however, this has not yet begun. According to Frank Rainieri, president of Grupo Puntacana, negotiations have re-opened (June, 2015) and he anticipates that this airport will be the first in Latin America to offer such preclearance service.[13]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

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 Munoz Marin 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 on the flight.[14]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Punta Cana International Airport at Wikimedia Commons