Tocumen International Airport

Coordinates: 9°04′17″N 79°23′01″W / 9.07139°N 79.38361°W / 9.07139; -79.38361
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Tocumen International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen
Airport typePublic
OperatorTocumen S.A.
ServesPanama City, Panama
Opened1 June 1947; 76 years ago (1947-06-01)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL135 ft / 41 m
Coordinates9°04′17″N 79°23′01″W / 9.07139°N 79.38361°W / 9.07139; -79.38361
PTY 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 (2020)
Source: WAD[1] STV[2] GCM[3]

Tocumen International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen) (IATA: PTY, ICAO: MPTO) is the primary international airport serving 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 European cities.


During World War II, Panamanian airports were leased exclusively by the U.S. Armed Forces. 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 Adolfo 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 José Antonio Remón 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. These circumstances 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 soil 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 to Omar Torrijos International Airport, in honor of the Panamanian leader who died on 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, when the airport was seized by 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] In January 2016, the route was delayed due to a lack of economic opportunities for the flight. It has not yet been announced when the flight will begin regularly scheduled operations.[7] 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.

On 16 March 2023, Aeropuerto metro station of Panama Metro was open in the airport.[8]


First phase[edit]

Main airport entrance

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.[9] The Lounge Panama,[10] a VIP airport lounge operated by Global Lounge Network[11] started operations at Tocumen on January 9, 2019.

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.[12]

Departure gates area at the new Terminal 2

Second phase[edit]

The second expansion phase of Tocumen International Airport is the Northern Terminal. At a cost of US$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 is a total of 40 gates. The new facilities included the 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 included 20 additional gates. It included the construction of a new terminal, hundreds of parking spots, Tocumen river diversion, and four new direct-access lanes to the airport. The new terminal was officially inaugurated on April 29, 2019 and started operations on June 22, 2022.[13]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Canada Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
American Airlines Miami
Avianca Bogotá
Avianca Ecuador Bogotá
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador (resumes December 15, 2023)[14]
Cayman Airways Grand Cayman[15]
Copa Airlines Armenia (Colombia), Aruba, Asunción, Atlanta, Austin,[16] Baltimore,[17] Barbados, Barcelona (VE), Barquisimeto,[18] Barranquilla, Belize City, Belo Horizonte–Confins, Bogotá, Boston, Brasilia, Bucaramanga, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Cali, Cancún, Caracas, Cartagena, Chicago–O'Hare, Chiclayo, Córdoba (AR), Cúcuta, Curaçao, David, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Guadalajara, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, Kingston–Norman Manley, Las Vegas, Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Manaus, Manta,[19] Maracaibo, Medellín–JMC, Mendoza, Mexico City, Mexico City–AIFA, Miami, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Montevideo, Montréal–Trudeau, Nassau, New York–JFK, Orlando, Paramaribo, Pereira, Porto Alegre, Port of Spain, Punta Cana, Quito, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Rosario, San Andrés Island, San Francisco, San José (CR), San Juan, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz de la Sierra–Viru Viru, Santa Marta, Santiago de Chile, Santiago de los Caballeros (resumes April 2, 2024),[20] Santo Domingo–Las Américas, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Sint Maarten, Tampa, Tegucigalpa/Comayagua, Toronto–Pearson, Valencia (VE), Washington–Dulles
Copa Airlines Colombia Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Medellín–JMC
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Iberia Madrid
KLM Amsterdam
LASER Airlines Caracas
RUTACA Airlines Caracas[21]
Sunrise Airways Port-au-Prince
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Turpial Airlines Valencia (VE)
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
Venezolana Barquisimeto, Caracas, Maracaibo


21 Air Miami
ABX Air Miami
Aerosucre Bogotá, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Amerijet International Managua, Miami
Avianca Cargo Bogotá, Miami
DHL Aero Expreso Aruba, Barbados, Bogotá, Caracas, Curaçao, Guatemala City, Lima, Mexico City, Miami, Port of Spain, Quito, San José (CR), San Juan, San Pedro Sula,San Salvador, Santiago de Chile
FedEx Express Memphis, San José de Costa Rica–Juan Santamaría
LATAM Cargo Colombia Bogotá, Miami[22]
Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas Bogotá
Mas Air Mexico City–AIFA
Qatar Airways Cargo Dallas/Fort Worth, Doha, Liège, Maastricht/Aachen, Quito
Transcarga Caracas, Las Piedras, Valencia (VE)
UPS Airlines Louisville, Managua, Miami
Vensecar Internacional Aruba, Caracas


Copa Airlines airplanes parked at Tocumen International Airport, the airline's primary hub.
Check-in hall
View of Tocumen Intl Airport from the tarmac

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at PTY airport. See Wikidata query.
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[23] 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[24] 3,215,423 16.6% 82,186 -20.3% 53,853 12.7%
2007[25] 3,805,312 18.3% 82,463 0.3% 61,400 14.0%
2008[26] 4,549,170 19.5% 86,588.8 4.8% 73,621 19.9%
2009[27] 4,748,621 6,531,927 4.4% 83,513 -3.8% 80,330 9.1%
2010[28] 5,042,410 7,005,031 6.2% 7.2% 98,565 18.0% 84,113 4.7%
2011[29] 5,844,561 8,271,459 15.9% 18.1% 110,946 12.6% 93,710 11.4%
2012[30] 6,962,608 10,174,870 19.1% 23.0% 116,332 4.9% 110,206 17.6%
2013[31] 7,784,328 11,586,681 11.8% 13.9% 110,186 -5.3% 121,356 10.1%
2014[32] 8,536,342 12,782,167 9.7% 10.3% 110,789 0.5% 135,406 11.5%
2015[33] 8,913,501 13,434,673 4.4% 5.1% 96,902 -12.5% 141,642 4.6%
2016[34] 14,741,937 9.7% 110,364 13.9% 145,245 2.54%
2017[35] 15,616,065 5.9% 113,228 2.59% 145,914 0.46%
2018[36] 16,242,679 4.01% 168,108 48.47% 148,556 1.81%
2019[37] 16,582,601 2.09% 164,700 -2.03% 149,808 1%
2020[38] 4,526,663 -72.70% 145,929 -11.40% 50,976 - 65.97%
2021[39] 9,163,998 102.44% 202,743 38.93% 88,823 74.24%

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest international routes out of Tocumen International Airport (2017)[40]
Rank City Passengers Airlines
1 San José de Costa Rica 863,035 Avianca Costa Rica, Copa, Copa Colombia
2 Bogotá, Colombia 792,170 Avianca, Avianca Ecuador, Copa, Copa Colombia
3 Miami, Florida 745,262 American Airlines, Copa Airlines
4 Cancun, Mexico 597,704 Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines
5 Havana, Cuba 581,741 Copa Airlines
6 São Paulo, Brazil 542,675 Copa Airlines
7 Mexico City, Mexico 524,404 Copa Airlines, Aeroméxico
8 Santiago de Chile, Chile 505,180 Copa Airlines
9 Lima, Peru 490,435 Copa Airlines
10 Caracas, Venezuela 446,641 Avior Airlines, Conviasa, Copa Airlines, LASER Airlines, SBA, Venezolana

Accidents at or near PTY[edit]

  • On August 4, 1965, a Rutas Internacionales Peruanes SA (RIPSA), a Douglas DC-4 cargo flight, crashed after takeoff 2.5 mls NE of PTY because of faulty maintenance. All 7 occupants died.[41]
  • On September 28, 1979, a Transporte Aereo Boliviano (TAB) Lockheed C-130 Hercules crashed into the sea shorttly after a night takeoff from PTY. All 4 occupants were killed.[42]
  • On July 2, 2004, a IAI Westwind operated by Air Tek crashed after takeoff and eventually came came to rest inside an empty hangar. All 6 occupants were killed, along with an airport worker on the ground.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Airport information for MPTO". World Aero Data. Archived from the original on 2019-03-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link) Data current as of October 2006. Source: DAFIF.
  2. ^ Airport information for Tocumen International Airport at Transport Search website.
  3. ^ Airport information for Tocumen International Airport at Great Circle Mapper.
  4. ^ Henriksen, Thomas H. (2022-01-31). America's Wars: Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781009053242.002. ISBN 978-1-009-05324-2. S2CID 113329937.
  5. ^ "History of Tocumen Airport". Tocumen Airport Panama. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  6. ^ Thompson, Chuck (2015-08-14). "World's longest nonstop flight announced". CNN. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  7. ^ "Flights to Panama City". Emirates. 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  8. ^ Schwandl, Robert. "Panamá". urbanrail.
  9. ^ "Admirals Club Lounge | Airline Clubs And Lounges | American Airlines". American Airlines. 2015-04-25. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  10. ^ "PTY4-The-Lounge-Panama-by-Global-Lounge-Network". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Global Lounge Network". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Expansion Plan of Tocumen Airport". Tocumen Airport Panama. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  13. ^ "Panama City's Tocumen International airport consolidates its place as one of Latin America's major hubs as new Terminal 2 opens its gates to traffic". Blue Swan Daily. 2019-05-15. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Cayman Airways to relaunch nonstop flights to Panama this June". Cayman Airways. February 13, 2023. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  16. ^ "4 new routes announced for Austin airport, including 2 new international destinations". Kxan Austin. February 13, 2023. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  17. ^ "Copa Airlines adds BWI to North American route schedule". The Daily Record. Baltimore, Maryland, USA. January 26, 2023.
  18. ^ "Copa Airlines Adds Barquisimeto From Oct 2023". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 8 June 2023.
  19. ^ "Copa Airlines anuncia vuelos entre Panamá y Manta". 26 January 2023.
  20. ^ "Copa Airlines Plans Santiago Dominican Republic Service Resumption in 2Q24". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Actionable Trading Ideas, Real Time News, Financial Insight".
  23. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2004 Website Archived 2009-02-27 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2006 Website Archived 2007-06-14 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2007 Website Archived 2008-09-10 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2008 Website Archived 2011-05-31 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2009 Website Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2010 Website Archived 2012-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Tocumen Airport Report 2011 Website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  30. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2012 Website Archived 2014-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Tocumen Airport Report 2013 Website Archived 2014-07-01 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "INICIO". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  33. ^ "Memoria Anual 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  34. ^[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Estadísticas Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen Enero a Diciembre 2018" (PDF).
  37. ^ "16.5 million passengers drove Tocumen International Airport in 2019".
  38. ^ "Estadísticas Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen Enero a Diciembre 2020" (PDF).
  39. ^ "Estadísticas Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen Enero a Diciembre 2021" (PDF).
  40. ^ "Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  41. ^ Accident description for OB-R-769 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 12, 2023.
  42. ^ Accident description for CP-1375 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 12, 2023.
  43. ^ Accident description for N280AT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 12, 2023.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]

Media related to Tocumen International Airport at Wikimedia Commons