Simón Bolívar International Airport (Colombia)

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Simón Bolívar International Airport

Aeropuerto internacional Simón Bolívar
2018 Santa Marta - Pista de aterizaje del Aeropuerto Simón Bolívar.jpg
Airport typePublic
OperatorAeropuertos de Oriente
ServesSanta Marta, Colombia
Elevation AMSL22 ft / 7 m
Coordinates11°07′10″N 74°13′50″W / 11.11944°N 74.23056°W / 11.11944; -74.23056Coordinates: 11°07′10″N 74°13′50″W / 11.11944°N 74.23056°W / 11.11944; -74.23056
SMR is located in Colombia
Location of airport in Colombia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 1,700 5,577 Asphalt
Statistics (2022)
Passengers movement3,745,615 Increase
Air operations-
Cargo movement (T)
Source: Aerocivil[1] Google Maps[2]

Simón Bolívar International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Simón Bolívar)[1] (IATA: SMR, ICAO: SKSM) is an international airport serving the city of Santa Marta, Colombia. The airport is located 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of Santa Marta city center, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of the municipality of Ciénaga in Colombia.

It is operated by Aeropuertos De Oriente S.A.S., through a concession agreement with Aerocivil. It is the international airport of Colombia with the shortest runway, 1700 meters long.

It is named in honor of Simón Bolívar, the military and political leader who played a leading role in the establishment of several South American countries as sovereign states, and who died in Santa Marta in 1830. The airport name is also currently the name of the airport in Maiquetía (Caracas), Venezuela.


Old and outdated Simon Bolivar Airport in 2014


The construction of the Santa Marta airport was inaugurated on 8 December 1949, by the company Líneas Aéreas Nacionales, for the Magdalena Department, a modern airport that will satisfy pressing and urgent regional needs. Back in those days, the airport had exceptional location conditions since it was used to operate by water and land. The dirt track was located parallel to the sea and is built in two stages: the first 1,200 meters long and the second with an extension to 1,000. For the operation of seaplanes, there is sufficient depth.

These ships can reach about 50 meters from the airport building. The preliminary plans for the terminal building were under study and approval by the Aerocivil and once approved the LANZA Company began its construction to complete it in the shortest possible time. it was also equipped with a modern control tower with all the devices for meteorological observations. At present, the ground movement works at Simón Bolívar Airport was progressing satisfactorily, under the direction of LANZA's engineering chief, Enrique Pérez Ayala. Santa Marta has, in its airport, a key to its development and progress.

The airport was recognized as an international airport in 2007.

Viva Air Colombia Hub (2018-2019)[edit]

In May 2018, Viva Air Colombia announced the opening of its third operational base in Santa Marta airport, which began in October 2018 and became the first airline to operate as a hub in the airport. The new hub provided connections to destinations such as Bucaramanga, Pereira & San Andrés, ended at the beginning of 2019.[3] In August 2018, Viva Air Colombia announced an international route to Miami from Santa Marta airport, which started on 18 December 2018, the destination ended in April 2019.[4][5]


Airbus A320 Viva Air Colombia at the airport

The airport has a new medical health care facility for primary services, a new check-in area, airline offices, a new food square, renovated restrooms, and indoor ATMs. Avianca, LATAM Colombia, Ultra Air, and Wingo are the only commercial carriers that operate passenger flights in this airport. The airport resides at an elevation of 22 feet (7 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 01/19 with an asphalt surface measuring 1,700 by 40 metres (5,577 ft × 131 ft).

The Santa Marta VOR/DME (Ident: STA) is located 9.7 nautical miles (18.0 km) south of the airport.[6]

Renovation and expansion[edit]

Terrace of the airport with departure entrance

The airport facilities were outdated and insufficient for the recent increase of tourism in Santa Marta, which had between 1.5 million and 1.7 million domestic passengers in 2016 and 2017. Renovation of the airport facilities began on 2 February 2015.[7] The project investment had an investment of more than 109,500 million COP (US$37 million, approximately) and it took 36 months (3 years) to be completely expanded and renovated.[8]

Renovated airport entrance

This renovation comprises the expansion of the new terminal building from 6,271 m2 (67,500 sq ft) to 15,413 m2 (165,900 sq ft) with a spacious check-in area with 24 counters and capacity to serve up to 2.6 million passengers per year.

The parking lot was increased from 2,070 m2 (22,300 sq ft) to 5,742 m2 (61,810 sq ft), and has parking for 33 taxis and 7 minibuses. The underground parking lot has space for 170 cars and 44 motorcycles, five baggage carousels, and new air-conditioning systems.[9]

The apron area went from 19,396 m2 (208,780 sq ft) to 30,702 m2 (330,470 sq ft), with five glass-walled jet bridges capable of taking Airbus A318, A319, A320, Embraer 170, Embraer 190, Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft.[10]

The new control tower is 22.6 metres (74 ft) high with eight floors and independent access. It has operated since 31 May 2016.[11]

The renovation and expansion of the airport were completed in February 2018.

Runway extension[edit]

The airport's runway is surrounded by the beach and sea, which restricted its length. Because of the short runway, it is one of the shortest of any major airport in Colombia. Passenger and Cargo airliners have never arrived on aircraft larger than the Airbus A321 or equivalent. No wide-body passenger airliners have ever been scheduled at Santa Marta airport.[citation needed]

In March 2017, when Germán Vargas Lleras was the Vice President of Colombia, he stated that the extension of the runway will be extended over the sea and would cost 350,000 million COP (US$70 million, approx). The National Government would invest 200,000 million COP in the runway, with the rest invested by the Magdalena Department.[12]

The runway will meet the minimum length requirements for the operation of wide-body aircraft and also international destinations. The runway would go over the sea from Category C3 1,700 by 40 metres (5,577 ft × 131 ft) to Category D4 2,200 by 45 metres (7,218 ft × 148 ft).[citation needed]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


An Avianca Airbus A320 taxiing at the runway
Avianca Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Medellín–Córdova, Miami (Restart, TBA)
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen[13]
LATAM Colombia Bogotá, Cali,[14] Medellín–Córdova
Ultra Air[15] Bogotá, Cali,[16] Medellín–Córdova, Pereira
Wingo Bogotá


Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas Bogotá
Aerosucre Bogotá


A Viva Air Colombia Airbus A320 arriving to the runway
Annual passenger traffic at SMR airport. See Wikidata query.
Movements 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Passengers 3,745,615 2,642,916 790,298 2,372,863 2,030,307 1,722,759 1,528,188 1,457,078 1,222,709 1,265,030 1,014,985 866,260 843,919 555,532

Busiest domestic routes (2018)[edit]

Rank Destination Passengers Airlines
1. Bogotá, Cundinamarca 1,293,899 Avianca, LATAM Colombia, Viva Air Colombia
2. Medellín, Antioquia 461,078 Avianca, LATAM Colombia, Viva Air Colombia
3. Cali, Valle del Cauca 107,108 Avianca

Ground transportation[edit]

Public Transport[edit]

Santa Marta Airport is also easily accessible by bus, operated by SETP and STU.


Simon Bolivar Airport is located near the motorway Transversal del Caribe


Taxis are available at Taxicab stand located outside the Terminal.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 4 August 1982, Aerotal, flight HK-2559, a Boeing 727 aircraft, landed several meters before reaching the head of the runway, bounced off the runway and lost the left main landing gear, causing the aircraft to leave the track and end up in the safety zone.
  • On 29 November 1982, Aerotal, flight HK-2560, a Boeing 727 aircraft, suffered a hydraulic fault and when landing, the left main wheel was retracted and the jet left the runway.
  • On 17 July 2007, AeroRepública flight 7330, an Embraer ERJ-190 aircraft, overshot the runway, went down an embankment, and ended up with the front end of the aircraft immersed on the ocean.[17]
  • On 16 October 2022, a Cirrus Vision SF50 registered HK-5342 overran the runway, went through the airport fence, crossed the road and crashed into a tree on the north of the beach known as "Playa Dormida" . Everyone in the aircraft survived with mild injuries. There was a single fatality and 8 people injured.[18][19]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The airport appears in the movie American Made, starring Tom Cruise, about an American pilot recruited by the CIA for covert operations of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and then was a DEA informant. The movie was released on 29 September 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b (in Spanish) "SKSM - Santa Marta" (PDF). 7 July 2011.. Unidad Administrativa Especial de Aeronáutica Civil (UAEAC). Accessed 16 October 2009.
  2. ^ Google Maps – Simón Bolívar
  3. ^ "Viva Air Colombia will open a base in Santa Marta". Aviator-Newsroom. 28 May 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Viva Air inaugurará la ruta Santa Marta-Miami". Hoy Diario Del Magdalena. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Viva Air suspende ruta Santa Marta – Miami por baja ocupación". Reportur. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  6. ^ Santa Marta VOR
  7. ^ "El 2 de Febrero inician obras del Aeropuerto Simón Bolívar (In Spanish)". Hoy Diario Del Magdalena. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Get to know the renewed Simón Bolívar airport in Santa Marta (In Spanish)". Hoy Diario Del Magdalena. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  9. ^ "the santa marta airport is already changing (In Spanish)". Agencia Nacional de Infrastructura. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  10. ^ "This is the new face of Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta (In Spanish)". Hoy Diario Del Magdalena. 25 December 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  11. ^ "New control tower at Simón Bolívar airport in Santa Marta (In Spanish)". Agencia Nacional de Infrastructura. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  12. ^ "They will allocate $ 300 million for new airport runway (In Spanish)". Hoy Diario del Magdalena. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  13. ^ "¡NUEVO DESTINO! (In Spanish)". Copa Airlines Twitter. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  14. ^ "LATAM COL solicita adición ruta". Aeronautica Civil Colombia. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  15. ^ Casey, David. "Analysis: Colombian Startup Ultra Air Faces Tough Domestic Competition". Routesonline. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  16. ^ "anunció el inicio de operaciones de 4️⃣ nuevas rutas desde el @aerocali". Twitter. @Aerocali. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  17. ^ "AeroRepública flight 7330". Aviation Safety Network. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  18. ^ "Un avión tipo SF50 Cirrus de matrícula HK5342 se salió de la pista del aeropuerto de Santa Marta durante la carrera de despegue". Twitter (in Spanish). Aerocivil. 16 October 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  19. ^ Tiempo, Casa Editorial El (16 October 2022). "Muere niño que fue embestido por avión que se salió de pista en Santa Marta". El Tiempo (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 October 2022.

External links[edit]