Tocumen International Airport

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Tocumen International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen) (IATA: PTYICAO: MPTO) is an international airport located 15 miles (24 km) from Panama City, Panama. In 2006, it underwent a major expansion and renovation program in order to modernize and improve its facilities. It is currently the only airport in Central America with two runways for use and is also the largest airport in the country and the busiest in Central America by passenger traffic.



During World War II, Panamanian airports were leased exclusively by the U.S. military. 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.

The first Tocumen International Airport was inaugurated on June 1, 1947 by President Enrique A. 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 Jose Antonio Remon Cantera. The old airport, which currently is being used as a cargo terminal, was built on an area of 720 square hectares and was 126 feet 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. This compelled the aeronautical authorities at the time to consider expanding the airport. Work on the new installations began in 1971.

In order to build the structure that currently houses the current passenger terminal, a lot of land 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 strips able to serve the largest commercial aircraft operating today.

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