With the transfer f the CATAM – Comando Aéreo de Transporte Militar (Military Air Transport Command) – the government will expand Bogota’s interntational airport, Eldorado and hopes to attract more travelers and investments in hotels and services.
With the added space there is now room for an additional commercial terminal, converting the country’s largest airport into an “Aeropolis” in the next 15 years
“It will be unparalleled and will position Bogota and Colombia as the main air hub in Latin America and the Caribbean, by virtue of its greater infrastructure and privileged geographical position,” said Santiago Castro, director of the Civil Aeronautics.
The government’s plans is to develop the Bogota airport into a “Aeropolis” that will become a hub for the aviation industry and tourism services, will be three airports: the Eldorado’s and the Puente Aereo, the existing international and national terminals, respectively and the new, to be built terminal, that will be able to handle more than 30 million passengers.
The moving of the CATAM means not only more space for terminals, also an additional 900 metres in the north runway, allowing direct passenger flights and cargo services from the Middle East.
Sources close to the project say that there is also the possibility of moving several private aviation companies to nearby Madrid, allowing for the future expansion of the Puente Aereo terminal.
Technical studies show that the current Bogota terminal will be insufficient in 2018. Last year, some 24 million passengers moved by air in the country. Projections estimate that some 45 million passengers annually will be transported by plane between 2021 and 2026.
Under these perspectives, President Juan Manuel Santos said that “eventually, and in the next decade, we must build a new airport, so we can get the traffic and become who we wanted to become: the true hub of Latin America”.
The relocation of the military base facilities and entire state air operations at Eldorado to Madrid (Cundinamarca) was approved by the Council of Ministers a few days ago, according to President Santos. The Colombian Air Force has not publicly spoken on the decision, but military experts confirmed that the project has been in the works for over a year.
The announcement to transfer the CATAM has the support of the commercial airlines. “We applaud the initiative. It gives us the overview of the challenges in airspace infrastructure,” said Manuel Leal, president of the Air Transport Association of Colombia.
The CEO of LAN Colombia, Hernan Pasman, said that “today there are very few countries whose military airbase is in the main airport”.
According to president of EasyFly and founder of Aerorepública, Alfonso Avila, the new airport terminal that will be complete in 2014 was designed with a projected passenger traffic growth of 5 percent. And the president of Copa Airlines Colombia, Eduardo Lombana, said the announcement “is a sign of the importance to the industry to have long-term planning, to anticipate changes in demand.”