El Alto International Airport
El Alto International Airport is an international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

 located 8 mi (12.9 km) south west of La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

, La Paz Department, Bolivia.

The airport is located in the city of El Alto
El Alto
At one time merely a suburb of adjacent La Paz, Bolivia, on the Altiplano highlands, the city of El Alto is today one of Bolivia's largest and fastest-growing urban centers. As of the 2001 census, the population was 649,958. In 2010, the population may be nearly 900,000, or more. The city contains...

 and has served since the first half of the 20th century, but was modernized in the late 1960s, when its runway was lengthened and a new passenger terminal with modern facilities was built. The new airport, called "John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

" but still referred to as El Alto (as it has been known for several decades), was inaugurated in 1965
1965 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1965:-January:* January 2 - Denis Healey, the United Kingdoms Secretary of Defence, cancels the nation's fighter and military transport programmes and orders the purchase of the US-built F-4 Phantom and C-130 Hercules in their place.* January 26 -...

El Alto airport was a primary hub for the former Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano
Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano
Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano S.A. was an airline serving as flag carrier of Bolivia. It operated domestic and international flights, aiming at passenger as well as cargo transport. LAB was active for more than 80 years, having been based in Cochabamba most of the time, with Cochabamba Airport being an...

, Bolivia's flag carrier
Flag carrier
A flag carrier is a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given country, enjoys preferential rights or privileges, accorded by the government, for international operations. It may be a state-run, state-owned or private but...

 which ceased operations in 2007 and is a hub for Transporte Aéreo Militar. It serves also as a focus city
Focus city
In the airline industry, a focus city is a location that is not a hub, but from which the airline has non-stop flights to several destinations other than its hubs...

 for AeroSur, currently the country's largest private airline and Boliviana de Aviación
Boliviana de Aviación
Boliviana de Aviación or simply called BoA is the state-owned national flag carrier airline of Bolivia along with private airline AeroSur. It was established by the Bolivian Government under the president Evo Morales, replacing the troubled Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano as flag carrier.The airline is...

 which is a state owned airline.


The Bolivian territory is characterized for presenting an extremely eventful relief. These topographic aberrations, which include a variety of environments such as rugged elevated mountains, high plateaus, low valleys and tropical forests, joined by its big extension,
influenced enormously in the national transport, making difficult the communication between elevated and low cities among with isolated tropical towns.

The technical factor that helped to overcome the geographical difficulties was the aviation.
This source of communication was very effective since some populations, in most cases, depend exclusively on the air transport for being able to communicate.

The Bolivian air transport started in 1916, when the Military school of Aviation was formed in La Paz. In 1929 the local government made a project for the construction of the airport. However it was officially inaugurated in the 1960s.
In 1974 the airport proceeded to a reconstruction. A new terminal was built and its facilities were enlarged and modernized.
Until 1999 the airport took John F. Kennedy (JFK) as the official name although in practice this name was never used in a public way. In that year, before the pressure of different sectors, by means of the Law 1944 during the government of Hugo Banzer Suárez the airport changed its name officially to El Alto International Airport as a de facto name up to that moment.


In 2006, SABSA invested nearly 2.3 million dollars in the reconstruciton of the main terminal. The new terminal consists of the enlargement, reshaping and construction of the baggage claim room, the check-in area and the corridor to the air bridges. The administrative offices of AASANA as well as the main hall and the international area were completely modernized.


On March 1, 1997, the Government of Bolivia entered into a 25-year contract with Airport Group International to operate the three largest airports in Bolivia – El Alto Airport in La Paz, Jorge Wilstermann Airport in Cochabamba
Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban population of 608,276 and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people...

 and Viru Viru International Airport
Viru Viru International Airport
Viru Viru International Airport is an aviation facility located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.The idea to build a new, modern airport in Santa Cruz was conceived in 1976, in view of the obsolence of the old airport known as El Trompillo. Soon after, construction of the airport began...

 in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, commonly known as Santa Cruz, is the capital of the Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia and the largest city in the country...

. Servicios de Aeropuertos Bolivianos Sociedad Anonima (SABSA) was created to operate the concession. In 1999 Airport Group International was purchased by TBI plc
TBI plc
TBI Limited is an airport owner and operator, incorporated in the United Kingdom in 1972.-History:The company changed name to TBI plc in March, 1994 and to TBI Limited in 2009.TBI bought Cardiff Airport in 1995....

 and, in 2004, Spain's first Abertis
Abertis Infraestructuras, S.A. is a Spanish corporation. The company runs 6,713 kilometres of motorways in Europe and operates more than a dozen airports in cities including London, Stockholm and Orlando...

/AENA purchased TBI.

Airlines and destinations

Accidents and incidents

  • On 14 July 1970, Douglas DC-3
    Douglas DC-3
    The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

     TAM-17 of TAM - Transporte Aéreo Militar
    TAM - Transporte Aereo Militar
    TAM – Transporte Aéreo Militar is an airline based in La Paz, Bolivia. It is the civilian wing of the Bolivian Air Force, operating passenger services to remote towns and communities in the North and Northeast of Bolivia....

     was damaged beyond repair in an accident.
  • On 4 May 1971, Douglas C-47 TAM-22 of TAM - Transporte Aéreo Militar crashed shortly after take-off on a cargo flight to El Jovi Airport.
  • On 17 September 1972, Douglas C-47A CP-565 of Aerolíneas Abaroa crashed on take-off. The aircraft was operating a non-scheduled passenge flight. All four people on board survived.
  • On November 25, 1976, Douglas C-47 CP-755 of Aerolíneas La Paz was damaged beyond economic repair in a landing accident. The aircraft was on a cargo flight, all four people on board survived.
  • On January 1, 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980
    Eastern Air Lines Flight 980
    On January 1, 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 struck Mount Illimani at an altitude of . The flight took off from Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asunción, Paraguay and was destined for El Alto International Airport in La Paz, Bolivia...

    , due to land at El Alto, from Paraguay to Miami, with a stop at El Alto, crashed into the side of mount Illimani
    Illimani is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real of western Bolivia. It lies just south of La Paz at the eastern edge of the Altiplano. It is the second highest peak in Bolivia, after Nevado Sajama, and the eighteenth highest peak in South America...

    , killing all 46 people on board the Boeing 727
    Boeing 727
    The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow-body, three-engine, T-tailed commercial jet airliner, manufactured by Boeing. The Boeing 727 first flew in 1963, and for over a decade more were built per year than any other jet airliner. When production ended in 1984 a total of 1,832 aircraft had been produced...

  • On March 8, 2006, a Learjet aircraft belonging to Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

    's military crashed just minutes after taking off from El Alto on its way to Viru Viru International Airport
    Viru Viru International Airport
    Viru Viru International Airport is an aviation facility located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.The idea to build a new, modern airport in Santa Cruz was conceived in 1976, in view of the obsolence of the old airport known as El Trompillo. Soon after, construction of the airport began...

    , killing all six people on board.

See also

  • Qamdo Bangda Airport
    Qamdo Bangda Airport
    Qamdo Bamda Airport , also known as Bangda Airport, located in Bangda, Qamdo, Tibet, is the highest airport in the world, at an elevation of . Runway 14/32 is the longest publicly used runway in the world, at ....

    , the highest commercial airport in the world, at 4334 m (14,219 ft)
  • Extreme points of Earth
  • List of airports in Bolivia

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.