Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport

Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport
Pudahuel Airport
Santiago International Airport
Terminal Aeropuerto Pudahuel.jpg
SCL is located in Chile
Location of airport in Chile
Airport type Public and Military
Operator SCL Aeropuerto de Santiago
Location Pudahuel, Santiago Metropolitan Region - Chile
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 1,555 ft / 474 m
Coordinates 33°23′34″S 70°47′08″W / 33.39278°S 70.78556°W / -33.39278; -70.78556
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17R/35L 12,467 3,800 Asphalt
17L/35R 12,298 3,748 Asphalt
Statistics (2010)
Passenger Numbers 11,064,487
Passenger Statistics from Aeropuerto de Santiago

Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (IATA: SCLICAO: SCEL), also known as Pudahuel Airport and Santiago International Airport, located in Pudahuel, 15 km (9.3 mi) north-west of downtown Santiago, is Chile's largest aviation facility and the busiest international air passenger gateway to the country. Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport has non-stop, international service to Europe, Oceania and the Americas. It served 11,064,487 passengers in 2010, being the 9th busiest airport in Latin America and the 6th busiest in South America by passenger traffic. It is the 7th busiest airport in Latin America by aircraft movements, serving 104,000 operations.[1] It is also a major connecting point for air traffic between Oceania and Latin America.

The Airport is owned by the Chilean State and operated since July 1998 by SCL Terminal Aéreo Santiago S.A. Sociedad Concesionaria, a consortium of companies formed by Agunsa (Chile), Grupo ACS (Spain) and Vancouver Airport Services (Canada). The Air traffic control is handled by the DGAC (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil - Chile). Its ICAO category is 4E. In addition, it is the main hub and maintenance center for LAN Airlines, Sky Airline and PAL Airlines. The airport functions as a joint civil-military facility. It is the headquarters of the Chilean Air Force 2nd Air Brigade and where its 10th Aviation Group is based.



Early years

The demands of the growing metropolitan area of Santiago and the need for modern, jet-era airport facilities which could safely accommodate both domestic and inter-continental flights operated mainly with Boeing 707's, Boeing 727's, McDonnell Douglas DC-10's and later Boeing 747's drove the need to relocate the Chilean capital's principle airport from Los Cerrillos Airport (ICAO: SCTI; IATA: ULC) in the denser southwest metropolitan region of Santiago to the more rural northwest metropolitan area.

Sky Airline has its main hub at SCL

Construction of the original terminal building, the first runway (17L/35R), control tower, east apron and cargo facilities commenced in 1961. On February 2, 1967, the airport was commissioned Aeropuerto Internacional de Pudahuel, due to its location in the municipality of Pudahuel. On March 19, 1980, the airport was rechristened, Air Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in honour of the founder of the Chilean Air Force and Chilean carrier LAN Airlines.

Current passenger terminal

The facility was expanded in 1994 with a new international terminal that covers 90,000 square meters, inspired by the architecture of Marseille Provence Airport, France. The building is located between the two parallel runways. This expansion added a new control tower, jetways, a duty-free zone, hotel, and greater parking area. The old terminal was used for domestic flights until 2001, when all passenger operations were merged into the same building. In the following years, minor expansions have taken place, such as the inclusion of additional jetways.

The terminal building has four levels. The airport services are distributed in the following way:

  • Ground floor: arrivals, Duty Free Shop, baggage claim, Customs and Border Control, Transport Services, parking areas, Holiday Inn Hotel access.
  • First floor: Administrative offices, VIP lounges (Access through the second floor).
  • Second Floor: Departures, Check-in areas, Border Control Police, Duty Free Shops, Restaurants, boarding halls and gates.
  • Third Floor: Restaurants.

The terminal building hosts the following services: Bank office (a branch of Banco Santander), Chilean Automobile Club, Telecommunication Companies (Claro, Movistar and Entel PCS), Pharmacy, Travel Agencies, Insurance (Mapfre, AIG-Interamericana), Police Station (Carabineros de Chile).

In 2000, Lan Chile joined OneWorld, making of Arturo Merino Benitez Airport a main hub for the alliance, its first one in Latin America and its second in the Southern Hemisphere (After Qantas' Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport in Australia).

During the 2010 Chile Earthquake, the passenger terminal building suffered internal damages and the collapse of a pedestrian bridge between the vehicle ramp and the departures area. Nevertheless, both runways and control tower were unharmed, allowing the realization of a massive humanitarian air-bridge held by the Chilean Air Force to Concepción, Chile (Carriel Sur International Airport), close to the most damaged area by this earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The airport authority had closed off all commercial flight operations after around 1200 UTC on February 27, resuming full operations on March 3, 2010.[2][3]

In 2011, IATA recognized the DGAC (Chile’s provider of air navigation services) and SCL (Santiago Airport) with the Exceptional Recognition Award to the cooperative efforts of SCL and DGAC Chile that facilitated a quick recovery from the devastation that followed the Chilean earthquake on 27 February 2010. "Both airport and air navigation services were restored quickly with no impact on rates or charges for passengers or airlines. DGAC Chile and SCL are widely regarded as leaders in Latin America for efficiency, quality, and customer focus[4]

In June 2011, Santiago International Airport received the Air Cargo Excellence Award, as the best Latin American Cargo Airport. [5]

Santiago International Airport is the longest non-stop destination for Iberia and Air France for flights departing from their respective hubs in Madrid-Barajas Airport and Paris-Charles De Gaulle.

Second runway

Construction on Runway 17R/35L began in 2004 and opened to traffic in September 2005. However, within months defects were discovered and the runway required repairing, completed in January 2006. Unfortunately further study of the problem discovered that the initial repairs were insufficient, needing additional work. Finally, 17R/35L reopened for traffic in March 2007.

Future expansion

In 2008, the airport terminal reached its maximum design capacity of 9.5 million annual passengers, 2 years in advance to forecast. This tight scenario is already showing a downgrade in the overall airport services, especially in the border control, check-in and baggage claim areas where queues are frequent in some early and late hours of the day.

For this reason, and with the repairs needed after the 2010 Chile Earthquake, the Ministry of Public Works informed that it will call for a tender in 2012 for the expansion and administration of the airport, 2 years prior to the end of the contract with the current operator.

The ministry decided to raise a whole new airport master plan instead of an expansion of the single passenger terminal building, as initially proposed by the current operator. The feasibility studies for this master plan will cost 4,560 Million Chilean Pesos (USD 9.4 Million) considered in the 2011 Fiscal Budget. For this new master plan, the Government has hired the consultancy services of Aéroports de Paris Ingeniérie (ADP-I), the architecture, engineering and technical branch of the French airport corporation.[6]

The expansion will take into account a capacity growth to 14 million annual passengers by 2014, 34 Million by year 2034 and 50 Million passengers by 2045. This plan will consider new detached passenger terminal buildings for International and Domestic flights, additional commercial areas and the construction of a light railway connecting the airport with the Santiago Metro network.[7]



  • Holiday Inn Hotels finished in July 2007 the construction of a 5-floor building, internally connected to both terminals (International and domestic), with private parking slots and special services for passengers and guests. The hotel has 112 rooms, restaurants, bars, room-service, a conference hall for 170 people, gym, covered swimming pool, spa and wi-fi internet access.
  • Hotel Diego de Almagro is located 2 km outside the airport area.
  • The brand new Hilton Garden Inn Santiago Airport Hotel is located only 2.8 km from the Santiago international airport within the ENEA, one of the largest business complex in Santiago de Chile which hosts offices, big companies and entertainment. Complimentary shuttle service from the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International airport (in and out) is provided by Trans VIP. The hotel has 144 rooms, a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, sauna, 7 meeting spaces including a ballroom with capacity for up to 230 people, 24-hour business center and wireless room internet access. The hotel is close to a golf course and the Arauco Maipu Mall.


The Santiago International Airport has four tax-free shops that offer a wide range of products to supply any need customers may have. They are handled by the Spanish Duty-free operator Aldeasa. One of them is located just after the police border control at departures, while another one is located before the baggage claim area.[8]

Souvenirs, jewelry, Chilean handcrafts and Wine Shops, music and accessories among others, are available in more than 70 stores from well-known international and national brands.


Santiago Airport has 21 well-known restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, located in the public area and in the national and international departing lounges. International franchises include Starbucks Coffee (both terminals), Ruby Tuesday (International terminal), Boost & Juice, Caffriccio and Dunkin' Donuts.

VIP lounges

In the International terminal, the operators are: LAN Airlines with the Neruda Lounge and the Mistral Lounge, American Airlines (Admirals Club), and the SkyTeam alliance (Delta Air Lines Sky Club); in addition to the unaffiliated lounges, such as Pacific Club.

Terminals, airlines and destinations

View of the Domestic Terminal
SCL's Domestic Terminal
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires-Aeroparque, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Mendoza I
Aeroméxico Mexico City I
Air Canada Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Toronto-Pearson I
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle I
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami I
Avianca Bogotá I
Copa Airlines Panama City I
Delta Air Lines Atlanta I
Gol Transportes Aéreos Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, São Paulo-Guarulhos I
Iberia Madrid I
Lacsa Lima, San José de Costa Rica I
LAN Airlines Antofagasta, Auckland, Balmaceda, Bogotá, Buenos Aires-Aeroparque, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Calama, Cancún, Caracas, Córdoba, Frankfurt, Guayaquil, Hanga Roa/Easter Island, Iquique, La Paz, Lima, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mendoza, Mexico City, Miami, Montevideo, Mount Pleasant, New York-JFK, Papeete, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Punta Cana, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Río Gallegos, Salta [seasonal], Santa Cruz de la Sierra, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Sydney D, I
LAN Argentina Buenos Aires-Aeroparque I
LAN Ecuador Guayaquil I
LAN Express Antofagasta, Arica, Balmaceda, Calama, Concepción, Copiapó, Iquique, La Serena, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Temuco, Valdivia D, I
LAN Perú Lima I
PAL Airlines Antofagasta, Arica, Calama, Copiapó, Iquique D
PLUNA Montevideo I
Qantas Sydney [begins March 26, 2012][9][10] I
Sky Airline Antofagasta, Arequipa, Arica, Balmaceda, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Calama, Concepción, Copiapó, El Salvador, Iquique, La Paz, La Serena, Lima, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Temuco D, I
TACA Peru Lima I
TAM Airlines São Paulo-Guarulhos I
TAM Asunción I

Top destinations

Busiest International Routes to and from SCL [2010][11]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina (Ezeiza and Aeroparque Airports) 1,031,359 Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, GOL Airlines, LAN Argentina, LAN Airlines, LAN Ecuador, Sky Airlines.
2 Brazil São Paulo-Guarulhos, Brazil 595,246 GOL Airlines, LAN Airlines, TAM Airlines.
3 Peru Lima, Peru 479,046 Lacsa, LAN Airlines, LAN Perú, Sky Airline, TACA Perú.
4 Spain Madrid, Spain 328,377 Iberia, LAN Airlines
5 United States Miami, FL, USA 276,372 American Airlines, LAN Airlines.
6 Argentina Mendoza, Argentina 217,282 Aerolíneas Argentinas, LAN Airlines
7 Uruguay Montevideo, Uruguay 213,154 Pluna, LAN Airlines.
8 Panama Panama City, Panama 163,491 COPA Airlines.
9 Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 154,235 AeroMéxico, LAN Airlines.
10 France Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France 137,908 Air France.
11 Colombia Bogotá, Colombia 134,495 Avianca, LAN Airlines
12 Brazil Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Brazil 127,329 GOL Airlines, LAN Airlines, TAM.
13 United States Dallas, TX, USA 109,508 American Airlines
14 Argentina Córdoba, Argentina 104,631 LAN Airlines
15 United States Atlanta, GA, USA 101,935 Delta Airlines
16 United States New York-JFK, NY, USA 92,366 LAN Airlines
17 New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand 73,027 LAN Airlines
18 Canada Toronto-Pearson, Canada 70,071 Air Canada.
19 Australia Sydney, NSW, Australia 61,991 LAN Airlines
20 United States Los Angeles, CA, USA 60,657 LAN Airlines
Busiest Domestic Routes to and from SCL [2009][11]
Rank City Passengers
1 Antofagasta, Chile Antofagasta 954,931
2 Tarapaca, Chile Iquique 637,601
3 Biobío, Chile Concepción 627,015
4 Antofagasta, Chile Calama 588,140
5 Los Lagos, Chile Puerto Montt 510,130
6 Magallanes, Chile Punta Arenas 368,985
7 Coquimbo, Chile La Serena 306,215
8 Araucanía, Chile Temuco 305,862
9 Arica y Parinacota, Chile Arica 279,175
10 Atacama, Chile Copiapó 244,423
11 Aisén, Chile Balmaceda 142,174
12 Valparaiso, Chile Easter Island 121,073
13 Los Ríos, Chile Valdivia 104,650
14 Los Lagos, Chile Osorno 99,296

Cargo terminal

Ground transportation


Costanera Norte Expressway

Arturo Merino Benitez is about 17 kilometres (11 mi) by car from Santiago's city centre. The airport is well served by the 6-lane expressway Costanera Norte, which crosses through the city from West to East bordering the Mapocho river, while it is also well connected to the West, North and North-East of Santiago by the Vespucio Norte Express Ring motorway (Exit number 18).


There are 2 official airport taxi services: Taxi Oficial and Taxi Vip, which can be contacted at their desks after the Baggage claim area.


Buses at the Departures Level

Centropuerto buses connect the Airport with Los Héroes Station of Santiago Metro. Their frequency is every 10 minutes during weekdays and 15 minutes during weekends.

Accidents and incidents

No airline disasters have occurred at the site. However 3 flights with final destination SCL crashed en route:

In addition, during the late 1960s and 1970s, Latin America's political turmoil affected safety in air transportation:

  • On July 4, 1973, an Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 737-200 registration LV-JTO, with 77 passengers on board, departed from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was hijacked soon after its take off by a member of the ERP (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo - In English: People's Revolutionary Army). The aircraft was forced to land at Mendoza's El Plumerillo International Airport, flying subsequently to Santiago, where 49 passegeners were freed. The flight continued to Lima, Perú, where other 6 hostages were released. The aircraft finally landed in Havana, Cuba, where the hijacker asked for political asylum.


External links

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