Colombia studies new airport for Bogota

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Colombia is studying a completely new airport for Bogota which will open after 2025, as traffic is expected to outgrow the city's El Dorado International airport.

The new airport, in a location yet to be determined, will have up to four runways, Colombia's civil aviation authority Aeronautica Civil director Santiago Castro tells Flightglobal.

"We are doing consultancy work to locate the exact place," says Castro. "There is a limit as to how much we can handle with a two runway airport," he adds, referring to the capacity of El Dorado.

Castro believes a new airport will not be too far from El Dorado, adding that it will "not be more than 30km away".

El Dorado opened a new terminal for international flights in October 2012, followed by a new domestic terminal in October 2013. While the new facilities have eased airlines' complaints about congestion at the airport, Castro says El Dorado will not meet the airport's capacity needs in the long term.

He expects the airport to handle 24.7 million passengers this year. Passenger traffic increased 12% in the first nine months of 2013. "The new terminal is enough for the traffic that it is handling in the next few years. But if it continues to grow at the double digit pace it has been growing, we will have to expand further," says Castro.

He adds that the airport is designed to "grow in a modular way" and can be expanded if needed. But he points out there is a limit to how much the airport can expand. "Bogota is 2,500m above sea level, we have mountain ranges all around," he says.

Bogota is not the only Colombian city with airport developments. Colombia has decided to build a new international terminal at Cali, Castro points out. A new terminal was recently inaugurated in Cartagena, and plans are in the pipeline to expand Medellin airport.

"It's a neverending process," says Castro, adding that Colombia's air passenger market is growing at a double digit pace annually. "Bogota is actually below the average growth of Colombia, which is around 17.8%," he adds. "Medellin is growing at 40%."