The Story of the Tocumen International Airport

Codes : PTY (IATA) // MPTO (ICAO)

The Tocumen International Airport is the main airport in Panama, located 24kms from Panama City. Is the most transited airport in Central America since 2007 leaving the Juan Santamaría Airport in Costa Rica in the second place. Is the gateway for travelers who go from north to south and vice versa. It’s the hub of Copa Airlines.

The original terminal was constructed in 1947 during the presidency of Enrique Jimenez, but the operations begun while the building was still under construction. It was completed 7 years later during the presidency of José Antonio Remón Cantera, later the president Remón was assasinated in a racecourse in Panama City.

During the 70s, the airport begun to receive more air traffic, that hight traffic of passangers, demanded the construction of a new (and the current) terminal, the construction begun in 1971 and was inagurated in August 15, 1978, to celebrate also the inaguration of the Panama Canal (1914) and the foundation of Panama City (1519). The name of the airport was changed to Omar Torrijos, after the death of the general Torrijos in a air accident in Cerro Marta, Cocle province, the crash was a result of a tipical controlled flight into the terrain accident in poor weather conditions in the mountains.

The airport was renamed Tocumen again in the 90’s after the American invasion to Panama, that resulted in the arrest of general Manuel Noriega and the termination of the dictatorship that ruled the country since October 1968. In 1992, the airport was named as the Hub of the Americas, and begun receiving more flights from different airlines, including airlines from Europe.

The original terminal was revamped and inagurated as the cargo area and the maintenace hangar for Copa was built as well the base of the National Air and Naval Service of Panama. In 2011, a new extension was inagurated with 12 new gates, a second extension is under construction and is expected to be finished and inagurated in 2017, this terminal will handle bigger planes such as the 747 and the A380, a possible 3rd runway is under review. The longest runway is the 03R/21L (10006ft long) and the other is the 03L/21R (8799ft).

To learn more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocumen_International_Airport

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The first expansion: the north pier

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A view of a Embraer 190 of Copa Airlines Colombia parked at the satellite A, at the bottom the north pier

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Check-In hall

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The entrance

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The second expansion under construction: the south pier

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A Boeing 737-700 of Copa parked at the main area of the terminal.

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A classic: a MD-11 of KLM taxiing to the terminal, now the AMS-PTY route is operated in a Boeing 777

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If only they stilled used the MD-11…

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Interesting post!

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Thanks for your comment @Nicholas_L!

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Oh I almost forgot…this is the original terminal, with another classic: a PANAM 707.

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