Piarco International Airport
|Owner||Government of Trinidad and Tobago|
|Operator||Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago|
|Serves||Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago|
|Location||Piarco, Tunapuna–Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago|
|Opened||8 January 1931|
|Elevation AMSL||58 ft / 18 m|
Piarco International Airport (IATA: POS, ICAO: TTPP) is an international airport serving the island of Trinidad and is one of two international airports in Trinidad and Tobago. The airport is located 30 km (19 mi) east of Downtown Port of Spain, located in the adjacent town of Piarco. It is the seventh busiest airport in the Caribbean in terms of passengers served and third busiest in the English-speaking Caribbean, after Sangster International Airport and Lynden Pindling International Airport. The airport is also the primary hub and operating base for the country's national airline, as well as the Caribbean's largest airline, Caribbean Airlines.
The international airport acts as a major central hub for the state-owned regional airline, Caribbean Airlines, the largest in the Caribbean, which is owned by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Piarco International Airport has direct scheduled service to destinations in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America and Europe. It is also a significant transit hub for the Southern Caribbean and serves as the primary connection point for many passengers travelling from Guyana.
The Piarco Airport opened on 8 January 1931, to serve Venezuela's Compagnie Generale Aeropostale. Before this, the Queen's Park Savannah, the Mucarapo Field, and the Cocorite Docks (for flying boats) were used as airstrips to serve the island.
In World War II the original airfield was used to house the Royal Navy Observer School HMS Goshawk. From 1942 it was also used by both the United States Army Air Forces Sixth Air Force and United States Navy air squadrons. The airport was used both as a transport airfield and also for antisubmarine patrol flights over the south Caribbean. It was returned to civil control after the war.
- 1st Bombardment Squadron (9th Bombardment Group) 24 April – 29 October 1941 (B-18 Bolo)
- 10th Bombardment Squadron (25th Bombardment Group) 27 August – 12 October 1943 (B-18 Bolo)
- 35th Bombardment Squadron (25th Bombardment Group) 27 August – 12 October 1943 (B-18 Bolo)
A major expansion of the airport, which included the construction of a new terminal building, and high-speed taxiways, was completed in 2001. The old airport building is currently used for cargo handling. Piarco International Airport is also the primary hub and operating base of Caribbean Airlines and was also the primary hub and operating base of the now defunct BWIA West Indies Airways and Air Caribbean. Briko Air Services And Aerial World Services operate a flight school at the airport.
In 2006 the Airports Authority of Trinidad And Tobago commissioned a study for land use planning and urban development planning. All-Inclusive Project Development Services Limited was commissioned to conduct the study. The study was completed in October 2007 and approved by the Board. In 2011, work on the infrastructure of the North Aviation Business Park began. It is completed in 2013.
In December 2019, the European Union gave a loan of 4 million euros for construction of a solar park at the airport with an annual generation capacity of 1,443,830 kWh. The project is slated to begin construction in Q1 2020.
In 2019, Piarco International Airport was named best airport in the Caribbean and 3rd best in the Caribbean and Latin American Regions.
At Piarco International Airport there are two high-speed taxiways and three connector taxiways (ICAO Code F for new large aircraft). This technologically state of the art airport has 82 ticket counter positions that operate under SITA's fibre-optic C.U.T.E. system which exceeds the recommended standards of ICAO and IATA. It also has a Flight Information Display System, which serves all airport users and a Baggage Information Display System.
The terminal is a fully air-conditioned, smoke-free building, equipped to handle peak-hour passenger traffic of 1,500 processing passengers through a fully computerised immigration system. The Customs Hall has four baggage/cargo carousels.
An administrative/operations building for the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard is being constructed at the Piarco Air Base. Also, a military airfield will be constructed near the air base.
The control tower at the old terminal building is currently used for air traffic control. The tower at the new terminal building is used for ramp control and runway movement control. A new nine-story control tower was opened in 2011.
The new North Terminal consists of 35,964 m2 (387,110 sq ft) of building with 14 second-level aircraft gates for international flights and 2 ground-level domestic gates. The overall layout of the building consists of three main elements: a landside core structure, a single-level duty-free shopping mall, and a 2-level 'Y' shaped concourse. 100-foot (30 m) cathedral ceilings and glass walls provide passengers and other visitors to the North Terminal with a sense of open space and magnificent views of the Piarco savannah and the nearby Northern Range mountains. The public atrium has the largest glass dome in the Caribbean.
The airport is also large enough to accommodate most international widebody airliners including the Boeing 747, Airbus A330-300, Boeing 777, Boeing 767 and the Airbus A340. Piarco International is capable of medium-sized aircraft including the Boeing 737, Boeing 757, Airbus A320, Embraer 190 as well as small aircraft such as the DeHavilland Dash 8, ATR 72 and other such turboprop aircraft. The airport layout consists of one main terminal building which includes three concourses. These concourses are not strictly identified as their name depicts but are divided into the following areas; Gates 1–7, Gates 8–14, and gates 8-14 specifically serve Caribbean Airlines and the Tobago concourse which serves flights to Tobago.
The disused south terminal has been renovated into a VIP terminal for the Summit of The Americas. The North terminal has also received additional remote parking stands. In November 2009, upgrades on the south terminal were completed and the area now serves as a private/executive jet facility for high-end travellers.
The Airport underwent expansion and renovation works in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in November 2009. These improvements included:
- Repaving and repainting of the taxiways.
- Re-painting of the runway.
- Installation of new Taxiway and runway lighting.
Piarco International Airport has two terminals. The south terminal was once the passenger terminal for the airport but has been renovated to serve as an executive terminal. It serves cargo flights, general aviation and helicopter flights. It has fourteen parking positions as well as light aircraft parking. In addition it has the Airports Administration Centre, the head office of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. The North terminal is the main passenger terminal. It handles all the commercial passenger airline traffic. The north terminal has twenty-nine parking positions.
In addition to passenger airlines, the airport also handles cargo traffic, general aviation, military and helicopter flights to the many oil rigs present offshore.
Airlines and destinations
Accidents and incidents
- 1963 – (5 January) A Cessna Skywagon carrying two Swedish persons, Torgny Sommelius (Pilot) and Erik Strandmark, crash landed and caught fire at Piarco killing them.
- 1984 – (29 July) An Aeropostal DC-9 flight from Caracas to Curaçao with 87 persons on board was hijacked in the air by 5 gunmen and forced to land at Piarco. The Trinidad and Tobago Government refused to negotiate with the hijackers and the aircraft departed hours later. 36 hours later, Venezuelan counter-terrorist troops stormed the plane and rescued the hostages with two of the hijackers killed during gunfire.
- 1990 – (17 January) A man jumped a fence and was sucked into a British Airways Boeing 747 engine. 1 death.
- 2001 – An Aeropostal MD-80 broke its nose wheel after falling into open trench on taxiway. No deaths.
- 2003 - (2 September) A Hummingbird Aviation Enstrom 280C helicopter suffered a birdstrike whilst on a training flight, managing to land safely at Piarco.
- 2004 – There were a series of collisions involving ground operator Servisair and three separate aircraft (BWIA 737-800 reg. 9Y-GEO preparing to fly to Miami, BWIA A340-300 reg. 9Y-TJN, prepared to fly to London Heathrow, and Continental 737-800 en route to Houston's Bush Airport.) The damage done to the aircraft was minor. No deaths occurred.
- 2005 – (18 April) Tobago Express Dash 8-300 made an emergency landing after the nose wheel failed to deploy. No deaths.
- 2007 – Briko Air Cessna 172 crash-landed after a botched landing by a student pilot. No deaths.
- 2007 – In October, both Piarco and what was then known as the Crown Point International Airport (now the Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport) were shut down for at least 2 days due to failed negotiations with the airport staff for better working wages. All flights operated through Piarco and Crown Point were cancelled, severely disrupting passengers travelling to Caribbean and International destinations.
- 2007 – A Caribbean Airlines flight from Norman Manley International Airport with stops at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados and the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten encountered smoke in the engine of a Boeing 737-800 upon arrival in Piarco. Auxiliary power was lost in the cabin, but there were no reports of injuries of the 84 passengers.
- 2008 – A Briko Air C402 suffered a failure of the right main gear and crash landed, closing the airport for two hours. No deaths.
- 2008 – 15 August An American Airlines Boeing 757-200 made an emergency landing after hydraulic system problems. The aircraft landed safely but the brakes locked up and the plane couldn't exit the runway. Passengers were ferried to the terminal and mechanics took some three hours to remove the aircraft, closing the airport to flight operations. No injuries.
- 2009 – Piarco and Crown Point International Airports suffered massive delays and cancellations after aircraft fuel plagued with massive amounts of sulphur was discovered, rendering the fuel unusable. Airlines to and from Piarco and Crown Point either cancelled or delayed their flights.
- 2010 – (14 July) An American Airlines Boeing 767-300 operating flight 1668 to Miami International was forced to make an emergency landing at the field following a bird strike. No Injuries or deaths were reported among the 212 passengers and crew.
- 2011 – (12 August) A North American Airlines plane was on approach near the Piarco International Airport just after 2pm when the pilots reported smoke coming from the cockpit. The aircraft managed to land safely at the airport with no injuries.
- 2012 – (26 October) Caribbean Airlines Flight BW 300 took off at 6.49 a.m from Piarco International Airport bound for Caracas carrying four crew and 44 passengers. A section of exterior panelling became detached from the aircraft on lift-off. The aircraft, an ATR 72 600, landed back at the Piarco International Airport safely at 7.15 a.m, without injuries.
- Weather at the Piarco Airport, WeatherCast UK
- Station Information Listing, NOAA
- "Airports Authority Of Trinidad And Tobago – Piarco". Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
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- List of the busiest airports in the Caribbean
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- Ap (1 August 1984). "Commandos Kill Hijackers in Freeing Jet in Curacao". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
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