Punta Cana International Airport

Punta Cana International Airport (IATA: PUJ, ICAO: MDPC) is a privately owned commercial airport in Punta Cana, eastern Dominican Republic. The airport was built with open-air terminals and roofs covered in palm fronds. Grupo Punta Cana built the airport, which was designed by architect Oscar Imbert, and inaugurated it in December 1983.[1] It is owned by Grupo Punta Cana and became the first privately owned international airport in the world.[2]

Punta Cana International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional Punta Cana
Punta Cana International Airport logo.png
Punta Cana (PUJ - MDPC) AN1562239.jpg
Airport typePublic-private
Owner/OperatorPunta Cana Resort and Club/Grupo Punta Cana
ServesPunta Cana, Higüey, Bávaro
LocationPunta Cana in La Altagracia Province, Dominican Republic
OpenedDecember 17, 1983
Elevation AMSL40 ft / 12.2 m
Coordinates18°34′00″N 68°21′07″W / 18.56667°N 68.35194°W / 18.56667; -68.35194
PUJ/ MDPC is located in the Dominican Republic
Location of airport in Dominican Republic
Direction Length Surface
ft m
08/26 10,171 3,100 Asphalt, concrete
09/27 10,171 3,100 Asphalt, concrete
Statistics (2022)
Total Passengers8,366,844
Aircraft Operations15,324
Source: Banco Central República Dominicana
1 Runway 08/26 Main runway.
2 Runway 09/27 back up runway.

The airport is the busiest in the Dominican Republic, and the second-busiest of the Caribbean, only behind Puerto Rico's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. In 2022, more than 8.3 million passengers (arrivals and departures combined) passed through the terminals that year, with almost 50,000 commercial aircraft operations.[3][4] In 2023, the airport accounted for 60% of all air arrivals in the Dominican Republic.[5] The airport serves 90 airports in 26 countries.[6]


Aerial view
Apron view. American 757, First Choice and Condor 767 can be seen.
PUJ apron
Rental car facility


The history of aviation in the Punta Cana region started in 1971, when Grupo Puntacana built the first hotel in the area, called "Punta Cana Club", along with a small airstrip. There were no terminals and no runway; it was just a flat piece of land. The only problem was that the area was very secluded from the rest of the Dominican Republic. Also, many more people were starting to go to Punta Cana for vacation, with more and more small cabins being built. Since there were no roads nor harbors, the only way to get into Punta Cana was by air.[1]

In the late 1970s a road was built to connect the area with the capital of La Altagracia Province, Higüey. Tourists from various countries started to come in. They had to pass through Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo, then take a short flight in a small plane to Punta Cana. The airstrip itself had significant problems, such as having a very short runway and still no terminal. This meant passengers would exit their plane and be directed onto a road to be picked up to ride to their hotel, which was inconvenient. Grupo PuntaCana knew it needed a real airport.

Planning and constructionEdit

In late 1974, Grupo Puntacana started to plan the first private international airport. However, the local government disapproved of the new airport. After eight full years of arguing with the province, a contract was made to begin construction on the new airport. The airport would be built where the old airstrip stood. In early 1981 planning started on the airport. Oscar Imbert (son of General Antonio Imbert) was chosen as architect. He wanted the terminal architecture to be based on Native American Tainos and Arawak structures. At the same time, he wanted to give the passengers a paradise feeling. The problem was that the planners did not want to pay for expensive air conditioning. The solution to this problem was to build the terminal in such a way that the coastal breezes from the Caribbean Sea would come in and cool down the passengers. The terminal building was planned to have palm fronds for the roof, and stone from the nearby jungles for the walls. For the columns, they would use eucalyptus logs and build them in Taíno and Arawak styles.

Construction on the new airport started in early 1982, and the small airstrip had to close down. To substitute for the loss, a small concrete airstrip was made into a temporary airport. This strip would turn into a runway when the airport opened. Since the terminal was small and there was not a lot of construction needed, the terminal was completed in under four months. The runway and tarmac took a long time since there were not many construction workers building the airport. The area was secluded, which dissuaded many construction workers from trying to build the airport. However, after eight years of persuading the government, and two more years of construction, the airport began operations on 17 December 1983.


The airport started out with a 5,000 foot (1,500 m) runway, which could fit larger propeller planes. The building was 300 square metres (3,200 sq ft) in area, and could assist 150 passengers every hour and a half.[citation needed] The small control tower also began operation.

In January 1984, Punta Cana had its first international flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, operated by the Puerto Rican airline, Prinair. The aircraft was a small double turbo propeller aircraft with 20 passengers. In 1984, the airport received 2,976 passengers.[2]

With a proper airport, many new hotels were built. As a result, this brought an increased demand to bring jet aircraft to Punta Cana, since the airport would have to accommodate more people. This led to the airport's first expansion in 1986. The runway was extended to 7,500 feet (2,300 m), and there was a small expansion in the check-in area of the terminal, along with the renovation of the terminal. The tarmac was also expanded to accommodate jet aircraft, and the control tower had new radar systems added to it. This expansion allowed many more aircraft to land at the airport. In 1987, the first route between Punta Cana and the United States began, with Miami International Airport.[1]

During this time, new airlines from around the Caribbean started to fly here. There were only about four airlines in 1988. All of these small airlines were regional, coming from different parts of the Caribbean. The second expansion was added in 1988, with the addition of a new taxiway. In 1989, the first private jets started to fly to the airport. Towards the end of 1989, another expansion started to extend the runway to 10,171 feet (3,100 m). This expansion was completed in late 1990.[citation needed]


The 1990s brought a major change to the airport. Now that the runway was 10,171 feet (3,100 m), long-haul jets could fly there. Some of the first airlines to fly charters to Punta Cana during this time were Monarch Airlines and Air Belgium in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Condor was expanding rapidly, following the addition of their new Boeing 767s and one of its new destinations from Frankfurt was Punta Cana.

These became the first routes from Europe and the first long-haul routes in the airport's history. Around the same time, LTU International started a route from Berlin. Many airlines around the Caribbean stopped operations to the airport, as a result of the new long-haul flights. In 1993, the airline Hapag-Lloyd Flug began a route from Düsseldorf. Air Transat began a route from Montréal, which became the first route from Canada. In 1994, American Airlines started operations to Miami International Airport. The same year, Lauda Air began operations from Vienna. The Dutch wanted a route to Punta Cana, so in January 1995, Martinair began operations from Amsterdam Schiphol. ATA Airlines started to fly to Midway International Airport in early 1996. In October 1996, the Chilean airline Lan Chile began to fly 767s from Bogota and Santiago.[citation needed]

Over time, more airlines from Europe, Canada, and the US began operations to Punta Cana. The late 1990s saw many new European charter carriers such as Britannia Airways, Air Europe, and Iberworld. There was increasing demand for an expansion, as the tarmac was not big enough to fit all of the new jet aircraft. This was becoming a major problem, as new airlines could not introduce new routes unless the airport expanded.

Towards the end of 1998, the tarmac was extremely busy and dangerous, due to aircraft having to taxi down the runway and turn before departure. The need to backtaxi created dangerous conditions with the volume of traffic, and sometimes resulted in considerable delays as other aircraft waited to enter the runway. The rapid growth of the airport's route network was too excessive for the small airport. As the number of passengers grew, Grupo PuntaCana planned a massive expansion, which began in 1999.


In 2000, after the completion of the expansion, the terminal was renovated and expanded to twice its original size to 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft). A long taxiway was added to prevent a collision on the runway, and the tarmac was expanded to fit six aircraft. This expansion was completed in 2001, and airline growth continued.

During this time, Punta Cana was drastically changing, with the addition of new hotels, malls, and infrastructure. Many people were flying to Punta Cana annually, and once again the airport was crowded by 2002. A new parking lot was built along with the new PuntaCana Village. By 2003, there was a small expansion of the terminal and the tarmac was expanded to allow seven aircraft to park. This was also the year the Grupo Puntacana had begun the planning of a second runway.

In 2004, Terminal 2 opened, the second terminal at the airport.[3] As many old charter carriers from the 1990s began to cease operations to the airport, each new year brought new airlines and destinations. Several prominent leisure carriers such as Transaero, Pullmantur Air, and Corsairfly started operations with large aircraft such as the Boeing 747.


In 2011, a new second runway was opened, which permitted more long-haul flights from countries like France, England, and Brazil with large planes such as the Boeing 747-400, the Boeing 777, and the Airbus A340.[7][8] With this expansion, the airport became the first in the Caribbean to have two runways longer than 10,000 feet. Along with the new runway, a new control tower, Terminal Approach Radar Control facility and a new Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS) were all presented.[9]

In November 2014, Terminal B was officially inaugurated.[10][11] This terminal uses jet bridges, the first terminal at the airport to use them. The new terminal is also completely enclosed, unlike the other terminals at the airport.

In November 2017, a new VIP lounge opened, which included a pool.[12][13]



International Check-in area

The airport has five terminals:[2]

  • International Terminals A and B - international commercial passenger travel
  • FBO Terminal - executive general aviation
  • National Terminal - serves national charter and general aviation flights
  • VIP Terminal - private terminal including an aircraft parking apron

Terminal A, the older terminal of the two international terminals, uses aircraft stairs for passengers to deplane and board aircraft with access for disabled people using wheelchair lifts. Terminal B was built with seven airbridges, three being for wide-body aircraft. This new terminal was completed in 2014 and can comfortably accommodate 6,500 travelers daily and over 2 million travelers annually.[10]

U.S. preclearanceEdit

Plans were underway for a U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance station to be opened at the airport by the end of summer 2009;[14] however, this has not yet begun.[15] According to Frank Rainieri, president of Grupo Puntacana, negotiations have re-opened (as of June 2015) and he anticipates that this airport will be the first in Latin America to offer such preclearance service.[16] As of December 2020, the preclearance station is still planned, but is waiting to receive authorization from the Dominican Government to begin construction.[17]

Airlines and destinationsEdit

Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Havana (ends July 5, 2023)[18]
Air Canada Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Halifax, Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, Québec City, Toronto–Pearson
Air Caraibes Paris–Orly
Air Europa Madrid
Air Transat Montréal–Trudeau, Québec City, Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Hamilton, London (ON), Moncton, Ottawa
American Airlines Austin, Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York–JFK
Avianca Bogota, Medellin–JMC
British Airways London–Gatwick
Condor Frankfurt
Seasonal charter: Düsseldorf, Munich
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Corsair International Seasonal: Paris–Orly
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Eurowings Discover Frankfurt
Flair Airlines Seasonal: Kitchener/Waterloo (begins December 15, 2023), Ottawa (begins November 1, 2023), Toronto–Pearson (begins October 30, 2023)[19]
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Orlando, Philadelphia, Tampa
Seasonal: Atlanta, St. Louis, San Juan
Gol Transportes Aéreos São Paulo–Guarulhos
GullivAir Seasonal charter: Bucharest, Sofia
Iberojet Madrid
Seasonal: Barcelona, Lisbon
Seasonal charter: Porto
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York–JFK, Orlando (begins November 4, 2023),[20] San Juan
LATAM Chile Miami, Santiago de Chile
LATAM Perú Lima
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal charter: Katowice, Prague, Warsaw–Chopin, Vilnius
Neos Seasonal Charter: Vilnius
Prinair Charter: Aguadilla
RUTACA Airlines Caracas, Maracaibo
Sky Airline Peru Lima
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Fort Lauderdale
Seasonal: Houston–Hobby (resumes June 10, 2023),[21] St. Louis
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Philadelphia
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sunrise Airways Port-au-Prince
Sunwing Airlines Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Bagotville, Deer Lake, Fredericton, Gander, Halifax, London (ON), Moncton, Regina, St. John's, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay
Swoop Seasonal: Hamilton, Toronto–Pearson
TUI Airways Birmingham, London–Gatwick, Manchester
TUI fly Belgium Brussels
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam
Turpial Airlines Valencia (VE)
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary
Wingo Bogota, Medellin–JMC
World2Fly Madrid
Charter: Lisbon, Porto


Annual passenger traffic at PUJ airport. See Wikidata query.
Busiest international routes from PUJ (2021)[22]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1   New York-JFK 397,749 American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue
2   Miami 377,462 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines
3   Panama City-Tocumen 292,242 Copa Airlines
4   Newark 246,990 JetBlue, United Airlines
5   Charlotte 233,585 American Airlines
6   Atlanta 214,439 Delta Air Lines
7   Frankfurt 213,805 Condor, Eurowings Discover
8   Fort Lauderdale 196,702 JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines
9   Chicago-O'Hare 167,620 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines
10   Madrid-Barajas 160,794 Air Europa, Iberojet, Wamos Air, World2fly
11   Toronto-Pearson 141,125 Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, Swoop, WestJet
12   Bogota 136,296 Avianca, Wingo
13   San Juan 129,623 Frontier Airlines, JetBlue
14   Baltimore 109,891 Southwest Airlines
15   Paris-Charles de Gaulle 108,805 Air France
16   Montreal-Trudeau 100,149 Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines
17   Philadelphia 99,754 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines
18   Moscow-Sheremetyevo 79,237 Aeroflot, Nordwind Airlines
19   Washington-Dulles 69,531 United Airlines
20   Lima 61,692 LATAM Peru, Sky Airline Peru
21   Orlando 56,269 Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines
22   Warsaw 55,581 LOT Polish Airlines
23   Paris-Orly 54,089 Air Caraïbes
24   Zurich 53,389 Edelweiss Air
25   Houston-Intercontinental 51,519 United Airlines
26   Dallas/Fort Worth 44,707 American Airlines
27   Medellin-JMC 42,353 Avianca, Wingo
28   Minneapolis/St. Paul 35,631 Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines
29   Lisbon 26,436 Iberojet, TAP Air Portugal, World2fly
30   Boston 20,929 American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On May 22, 2005, a Skyservice 767-300 suffered from a fracture in the upper fuselage and damaged landing gear after experiencing a hard landing and bouncing multiple times following a flight from Toronto. There were a few injuries but no fatalities among the 318 occupants of the aircraft and it was repaired and returned to service.[23]
  • On October 13, 2014, the engine of a Jetstream Bae 32 aircraft belonging to Air Century Airlines caught fire while landing after a charter flight from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airplane crew declared an emergency and landed the aircraft at 20:45 local time, after a 49-minute flight, but the plane was destroyed in a subsequent fire. There were no injuries among the 13 passengers and two crew members.[24]
  • On February 10, 2016, Orenair flight 554 to Moscow Domodedovo Airport reported an engine fire and smoke in the cabin. The crew decided to turn around and land the aircraft, without dumping fuel, rather circling around the airport. Upon landing the overweight aircraft, the landing gear overheated and caught fire, and the aircraft was evacuated. There were no injuries among the 371 occupants of the Boeing 777 and it remained grounded at the airport for 10 months, leaving in December 2016.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Nuesta Historia (Our history)" (PDF). Grupopuntacana.com. Retrieved 25 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Airport Tech Data" (PDF). Puntacanainternationalairport.com. March 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Punta Cana Airport Information". Puntacanainternationalairport.com. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014.
  4. ^ Diario, Listin (27 December 2022). "Aeropuerto Internacional de Punta Cana logra récord de 8 millones de pasajeros en un año". listindiario.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  5. ^ Externa, Fuente (28 February 2023). "Dominican Republic broke record in flight operations in 2022". DMK Abogados. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  6. ^ "Punta Cana International Airport Official Website". PuntaCanaInternationalAirport.com. Retrieved 4 June 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Grupo PuntaCana inaugura nueva pista en el Aeropuerto Internacional". Arecoa.com (in Spanish). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Construyen una nueva pista de aterrizaje en Punta Cana". Hoy Digital. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Nuestra Historia". Punta Cana International Airport. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ a b "PUJ is ready to inaugurate modern, convenient air travel with Terminal B". Puntacana Blogs. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Punta Cana International Airport Opens Brand-New Terminal". Caribbean Journal. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  12. ^ "PUNTA CANA AIRPORT VIP LOUNGE: AN INSIDE LOOK". Loungebuddy.com. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Ballester, Marcelo (16 December 2018). "Aeropuerto Internacional de Punta Cana celebra 35 años liderando en RD". Online Punta Cana Bavaro (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Busiest Dominican airport to have U.S. Customs, Immigration station, Nuevo Diario reports". Dominicantoday.com. 25 July 2008. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009.
  15. ^ Newsdesk (2 December 2016). "United States, Dominican Republic Sign Agreement to Open Pre-clearance Facility in Punta Cana". Travel Agent Central. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  16. ^ "Bavaro News; Year X; edition 287; page 4". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Rainieri: passenger preclearance would contribute US $ 1.2 billion to the DR". DominicanToday. 13 December 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Aerolineas Argentinas 2H23 Mexico / Caribbean Service Changes". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 10 April 2023.
  19. ^ "Flair Airlines to launch flights to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic this fall" (PDF). Flair Airlines media (Press release). Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  20. ^ "JetBlue Sets Plan for 200 Daily Flights at Orlando International Airport, Starting With New Daily Service to the Dominican Republic Out For Sale Starting Today". www.businesswire.com. 16 March 2023. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  21. ^ "Southwest Airlines 1H23 International Network Additions – 26JAN23". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  22. ^ "COMMERCIAL AIR TRANSPORT STATISTICS REPORT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC" (PDF). jac.gob.do. Junta de Aviación Civil. 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 October 2022. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  23. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-31KER C-GLMC Punta Cana Airport". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Se incendia avión que despegó desde San Juan". El Nuevo Dia. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  25. ^ "Incident: Orenair B772 at Punta Cana on Feb 10th 2016, engine shut down in flight, burst tyre and smoke on landing". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2019.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Punta Cana International Airport at Wikimedia Commons