After 52 years of service, the current International Airport of Quito, Mariscal Sucre [IATA airport code: UIO], switches off its lights and closes permanently on
October 11, 2012[updated information now puts the opening date for February 20th, 2013]. The original airport was built in 1960 on 126 hectares of land, located in the north of Quito.
Due to its location in the middle of a city surrounded by mountains, the current airport cannot be expanded to accommodate any larger aircraft or an increase in air traffic. Its operation poses higher risks, too; six serious accidents and several incidents have taken place in recent years. When the original airport was built back in 1960 it was on the north edge of Quito … but during the last 50 years Quito has expanded northward, enveloping the airport.
October 12, 2012February 20th, 2013, the new Quito International Airport will be inaugurated and starts its operations.
In addition, as of February 20th, 2013 the Quito airport has increased its airport taxes:
Passengers with tickets issued before February 20th can pay for the increase directly at the airport.
USD $8.17 tax increase for DOMESTIC/NATIONAL routes.
USD $15.86 tax increase for INTERNATIONAL routes.
The new airport, which began construction in 2006, is about 10 times larger and sits on 1500 hectares of land aprox. 15 km (as the crow flies)east of Quito. In actual fact, the road trip from Quito (e.g., from central Quito) to the main terminal is 37 km (22 miles) using the only main access road (via Cumbaya,Tumbaco, Pifo).
Here are the some comparisons between the original and new airport:
Unlike the original airport which is located in the middle of the city, the new airport is outside of the city and therefore has a more than adequate safety/security zone (in case of accidents).
The original airport is located at 2800 m.a.s.l. (one of the highest airports in the world) and surrounded by mountains. The new airport is located at 2400 m.a.s.l. and in a relatively open topography.
The original airport sat on 126 hectares of land with no possibility to expand (as the city grew around the airport in the meantime). The new airport sits on 1500 hectares with between 70 to 100 hectares of land for possible future expansion.
The original airport has about 40 hectares (aprox.) of construction, while the new airport currently has 70 hectares of construction.
The passenger terminal(s) of the original airport is 28,700 m2, while the new airport terminal(s) occupy 38,000 m2 (first phase).
The original airport runway is 3120 m in length, while the new airport boasts a main runway of 4100 m ( also has a second runway of 2350 m).
The control tower of the original airport is 22 m high, while the new airport has a control tower of 41 m.
The original airport capacity to service 3,660,000 passengers, while the new airport some 5,000,000 in its first phase.
The original airport has 35 airline counters, while the new airport has 60 airline counters.
The original airport has parking for 32 aircraft, while the new airport currently has parking for 45 aircraft.
The car park of the original airport can hold 380 vehicles, while the new airport has space or 903 vehicles.
There are currently three different routes to the new airport from Quito [detailed updates on airport access routes will follow as information becomes available, including maps, travel times, costs etc].
Readers should keep in mind that due to the new location (near Tababela) it will take at least 60 to 90 minutes (dependent on traffic conditions) to get to/from the new airport to/from Quito (based on current limited road access).
Updated data: I just did this trip today [February 7th, 2013] with no airport traffic, leaving Mariscal Sucre area of Quito at 08h30 and it took 60 minutes to get to the airport terminal (keep in mind that at the time of the journey the airport was not officially open and so the trip time does not reflect travel time with traffic to/from the airport once it is functioning). It was obvious along the way that the road access leaves a lot to be desired and definitely ”in progress” … sections under reconstruction, sections of two lanes in either direction and others three lanes in each direction.
This trip (via Cumbaya, Tumbaco, Pifo, Tababela) is almost exactly 36 km (22.3 miles) by road and will most probably be the principal access route to/from the airport until the other access routes are constructed. Leaving the airport around noon, it then took 90 minutes to return back into Quito (due to greater traffic during the mid day hours).
In my humble opinion, the airport is not completely ready for operation on February 20th and the transportation to/from the airport is still ambiguous and not ironed out. I strongly advise all passengers to allow for a greater window of time to avoid unnecessary “surprises”. Generally speaking, allow for 4-5 hours (3 hours before flight + 1-2 hours travel time) for International departure flights and 3 hours (90 minutes prior to flight + 90 minutes travel time) for domestic departure flights. These times also contemplate technical glitches (new check-in machines, procedures etc) that may occur in the first few days of operation. Forewarned is for armed.
As for transportation to/from the new airport there apparently are the following options:
(the data provided has not been confirmed or personally verified yet):
(rates are not clear yet, but might be around USD $25-$35 one way);
EXPRESS AIRPORT BUS
- Company: Aeroservicios [link]
- Departure/from: Original/old airport terminal in Quito
- Hours of operation: 24 hours
- Frequency: Every 30 minutes
- [According to news sources this company was supposed to have a website up and running today ... February 15th, 2013 ... but no surprise ... nothing yet!]
- Hours of operation: 04h45 until 24h00
- Departure/from: Coca bus terminal (Terminal Rio Coca) located in northwest sector of Quito.
- Frequency: every 10 to 14 minutes
- Number of stops along the way: 11
- Cost: USD $2 per person
- Travel time: tba (I hazard to guess at least 90 – 110 minutes).
- Observation: allow plenty of leeway time for this option … cheap but slow!
Below are some photographs taken at the new airport today, February 7th, 2013.
What I did notice that concerns me is that on the arrival level (lower level of the terminal), the domestic arrival gate and International arrival gate are right next to each other (less than 30m separating where both domestic and International passengers enter into the terminal). I can foresee this area being extremely congested … as it is not unusual that for one Ecuadorian immigrant returning back to Ecuador there are between 5 to 10 family members anxiously awaiting the arrival of their loved one. In addition, numerous hotels, travel agencies and tour operator representatives wait in this area for their clients with signs and … well, you get the picture!
The first thing I should make clear is that, at present, there is a VERY LIMITED SELECTION of places to stay in and around the new Quito airport region in Tababela. This, no doubt, will change as the years pass by. But for right now, if you need to stay near the airport (within 30 minutes or so) you are basically talking about the El Quinche, Tababela, Puembo & Pifo region. Much beyond Pifo you might as well stay in Quito!
TABABELA – There are two places I managed to find on my scouting trip:
- Mi Huasipungo is basic and only has 8 rooms (two doubles, one triple, one family and 4 singles). Rates rate from USD $30 (single room) up to USD $125 (family room); rates include continental breakfast. IMPORTANT NOTE: Apparently there are no available rooms for February, March and April 2013.
- Hosteria San Carlos is more comfortable, with approximately 12 rooms (singles, doubles, triples and dorms; rates from approximately USD $20 (dorm) to USD $95 (triple)
PUEMBO – There are two places I managed to find on my scouting trip:
- Hosteria San Jose is a charming hacienda, offering approximately 36 rooms between USD $80 to $175.
- Rincon de Puembo is another charming place, offering 15 different rooms (suites, doubles, triples and family townhouses) – rates to be confirmed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I will be updating this ‘accommodation’ section as information becomes available. For those wishing to make reservations in the area near the airport, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org (and personally recommend doing so well in advance as the number of options is extremely limited at present!)
The future of the original airport is being finalized, but apparently it will be converted into an aquatic park (mini Central Park) with lagoons and a convention center (location of current terminal building.