Caracas Maiquetia – ‘Simon Bolivar’ International Airport SVMI/CCS Venezuela
During a recent trip to South America (March 2006), I visited Venezuela for a few days. While transferring through Caracas International Airport (IATA= CCS), also known as Maiquetia – Simon Bolivar, I had the opportunity to check out the airport terminals and take some pictures.
Maiquetia is the most important of the 12 airports within Venezuela in terms of volume and traffic. Approximately 6.5 million visitors pass through its doors on a yearly basis. Formed in 1971, Maiquetia is administrated by the Independent Institute of International of Maiquetia (IAAIM). The history of the airport dates back to 1929. The famous American aviator Charles Lindberg came to the North shores of Venezuela in search of a place to build a landing site. A year later August 1930, the Bread American Inc Airways, rented a piece of land from the Lui family, and introduced the first ever landing site in Venezuela. It was known as Guaire airfield which later became known as Maiquetia aerodrome. In 1934 a small terminal was constructed and the grass field was covered with iron tracks. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was one of early companies which introduced international passenger service to Venezuela. Today the airport consists of two large terminals, International and Domestic, which are separated by an open air 600 m pedestrian walkway.
Next to the Domestic Terminal a small executive terminal is located, which is also used by the Venezuelan Air-force. Beyond that (to the West) you can find the large Aeropostal maintenance hangers and cargo area. The International Terminal has just been completely renovated. In the old building there used to be an open air visitors deck with excellent view on the International ramp. Due to the recent construction this deck has now fully disappeared. The only possibility to view and/or photograph any aircraft is inside the terminal and only when you are traveling as a passenger. The mornings are very quiet with only a couple of US carriers at the gates. Most of the International carriers (Air France, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Cubana, Iberia) arrive late in the afternoon.
Since we where traveling to the Los Roques Archipelago, we had to transfer through the Domestic terminal. The old building still retains some of her original 1980’s charm. The open air observation has unfortunately been closed, not sure if this has to do with the increased worldwide security threat? Currently the only possibility to view airplanes and to take pictures is at the Angel Lozana restaurant, which is located on the West side of the terminal (level 3). The restaurant provides excellent view of the Domestic ramp and the reasonably clean windows give no problems for photography (70-300mm). When the sun is out (most of the time) it will compensates for the slightly tinted glass. The restaurant is also a very good place for having traditional Venezuelan food and drinks. (I can recommend a cool Polar beer). While spending almost the whole day, I had no trouble from the staff, they where very friendly. Practically all arrivals will land on runway 10/28 and will use the parallel taxi-way; they all can be viewed from the restaurant. Additionally the domestic traffic using the second runway 09/10 can be seen and photographed! The domestic ramp is an ‘Old jets’ paradise, the majority of the Venezuelan companies still operate veteran Boeing and Douglas twin jets on their internal and some international routes. Aeropostal and Aserca Airlines at present use the Mc-Donnel Douglas DC-9 series 30s & 50s models. Rutaca and Avior Airlines still operate the classic Boeing B737-200 models, while LASER was flying a Douglas DC-9-15 short body. Santa Barbara Airlines was using a single Boeing B727-200 tri-jet! During my short visit I even witnessed the arrival of several interesting freighters such as an Aerocarribean IL-18 (CU-C1515), Cielos DC-10-30, DHL B727-100 and an Aero-Sucre Boeing B727-100 freighter. To complete the picture Conviasa also uses a De Havilland Dash-7, which was currently out of service due to a landing incident. Conviasa is the only operator of the next generation B737-300 models
The domestic traffic continues through-out the day and from time to time the ramp can be packed with as much as 10-15 jets at a single moment! There are not too many places where one can still enjoy such an abundance of so many old jets. The ramp is also the home of many other rare types of aircraft. Transraven operates the Let410 to Los Roques while Linea Turistica Aerotuy (LTA) uses a small fleet of De Havilland Dash-7-102s for flights to Canaima and Los Roques. For the fans of the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, Caracas domestic ramp has much to offer. Both Aeroejecutivos and Sol de America will have their DC-3 positioned on the ramp for a early morning departure. They will be gone for the day and arrive back late in the afternoon. Sol de America also uses its Britten-Norman BN-2A MK3 Trislander for services to Los Roques. Safety concerns: Just to make it clear, I did not experience any nasty situations at Caracas Airport, just the over enthusiast taxi jugglers at the arrivals. Attention must be given when traveling to and from the airport. Always use an official airport taxi and decide on the fare before you get in. When spotting at the executive ramp, please be aware of the security guards near the gate!
|Type||Airport (Aerodrom, Airfield)|
|Elevation:||235 ft (72 m)|
|Longest:||11483 × 148 ft (3500 × 45 m)|