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Punta Cana International Airport (IATA: PUJ, ICAO: MDPC) is a privately owned commercial airport in Punta Cana, eastern Dominican Republic. The airport is built with open-air terminals with their roofs covered in palm fronds. Grupo PuntaCana[1] built the airport, which was designed by architect Oscar Imbert, and inaugurated it in December 1983. It 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
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; -68.35194Coordinates: 18°34′00″N 68°21′07″W / 18.56667°N 68.35194°W / 18.56667; -68.35194
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 (2018)
Total Passengers7,886,586
Aircraft Operations46,480
Source: Banco Central República Dominicana
1 Runway 08/26 All traffic.
2 Runway 09/27 Light traffic only.

A number of scheduled and charter airlines fly to Punta Cana; more than 6.3 million passengers (arrivals and departures combined) pass through the terminals, moved by almost 60,000 commercial aircraft operations.[3] The operators of the airport, Corporación Aeroportuaria del Este, S.A. (a private corporation run by Puntacana Resort and Club),[2] expanded the facility in November 2011 with a new runway and air traffic control tower designed to support the robust growth of travel to the region. In 2014, the airport accounted for 60% of all air arrivals in the Dominican Republic.[4]



Aerial view
Apron view
Check-in area

Former airstripEdit

The history of aviation in the Punta Cana region started in 1971, when Grupo PuntaCana built its first hotel and a small airstrip where aircraft could land. 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.

In the late 1970s a road was built, to connect the area with the capital of that 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 single-engine 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 fronds of cane palms of the roof, and for the walls, stone from the nearby jungles. For the columns, they would use eucalyptus logs.

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 December 17, 1983.


The airport started out with a 5,000 feet (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. The small control tower began to be used.

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.

With a proper airport, many new hotels were built. However, now that there were more hotels, more people wanted to fly to Punta Cana. There was an increased demand to bring jet aircraft to Punta Cana. This led to the airport's first expansion in 1987. The runway was expanded to 7,500 feet (2,300 m), along with a small expansion of the terminal. The tarmac was expanded to accommodate jet aircraft. The terminal was renovated and more check-in stands were built. This expansion allowed many more aircraft to land at the airport. The small control tower was also renovated, with new radar systems added. However, large jet aircraft did not fly to Punta Cana until the early 1990s. During this time, new airlines from around the Caribbean started to fly here. The second expansion was added in 1988, in which a new taxiway was added so it could be easier to get off the runway and onto the tarmac. 1989 was also when the first private jets started to fly to the airport. There were only about four airlines in 1988. All of these small airlines were regional, coming from different parts of the Caribbean. Towards the end of 1989, another expansion started to expand the runway to 10,171 feet (3,100 m). This expansion was completed in late 1990.


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. In late 1992, the German airline Condor Flugdienst acquired several new Boeing 767s.

During this time, Condor was expanding rapidly. One of its new destinations was Punta Cana. The planes would fly from Frankfurt on a 10-hour flight. This became the first route from Europe, and the first long-haul route in the airport's history. Around the same time, LTU International started a route from Berlin. Also, many airlines around the Caribbean stopped operations to the airport, since now there were 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.

Over time, more airlines from Europe, Canada, and the US began operations to Punta Cana. In 1997, three more airlines were added. 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. In 1998, two new airlines began operations.

Towards the end of 1998, the tarmac was extremely busy and dangerous, since the aircraft had to taxi on the runway itself, turn, and then take off. There was a high risk of a collision on the runway if two planes were on it at the same time. Sometimes the narrow taxiways were so full, some airplanes had to wait 20 minutes before beginning to taxi to the runway. During 1999, only one airline started to fly there, because the small airport was too crowded. As the number of passengers grew, Grupo PuntaCana began to plan a massive expansion. The expansion began in late 1999 and ended in late 2000.


In 2000, there was a major expansion: the terminal was expanded twice its original size to 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft) and was renovated again. There was a long taxiway added to prevent a collision on the runway, and the tarmac was expanded and renovated to fit six aircraft. This expansion was completed in 2001. By then one more airline was added, and by 2001, two more.

During this time, Punta Cana was changing; malls and roads were being built, along with brand new hotels. Now, many people were flying to Punta Cana, and once again the airport was crowded by 2002. A new parking lot was built along with the new Punta Cana Village. That year, no new airlines flew there. By 2003, there was a small expansion of the terminal and the tarmac was expanded to allow seven passenger airplanes to park at the airport. This was also the year the Grupo Puntacana had begun the planning of a second runway. In 2004, there was a second expansion on the tarmac to allow many more aircraft to fly there. This was also when older airlines started to cease operations to the airport. By 2005, only 15 airlines flew to the airport. That same year, the construction of a second runway was approved, and planning on the runway started.



The airport has five terminals: International Terminals A and B for international passenger travel; FBO Terminal, located west of terminal B, for executive general aviation, both national and international; National Terminal, located east of the FBO terminal, for national charter and general aviation; and VIP Terminal, located east of Terminal A, a private terminal including an aircraft parking apron. Punta Cana International Airport serves 96 cities in 28 countries.[5] Terminal B was built to hold larger aircraft like the Airbus A380 along with seven airbridges, one being for the Airbus A380. This new terminal was completed in 2014 and can comfortably accommodate 6,500 travelers daily and over 2 million travelers annually.[6]

Expansion projectsEdit

Punta Cana's airport operators completed an airport expansion project in November 2011, which included a new runway and a control tower equipped with modern radio and air traffic control equipment. There is also a new Terminal Approach Radar Control facility and a new Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS). This new facility provides a back-up to the National Radar System located in Santo Domingo. A second international terminal which opened in 2014 is designed to accommodate about 6,500 passengers daily. The operators plan to open a third terminal and renovate runway 09/27 while also constructing a cargo terminal.[4]

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;[7] however, this has not yet begun. 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.[8]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires–Ezeiza
Seasonal: Córdoba
Aeroméxico Connect Seasonal: Mexico City
Air Antilles Seasonal: Pointe-à-Pitre
Air Canada Seasonal: Halifax
Air Canada Rouge Montreal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Ottawa (begins November 2, 2019),[9] Québec City (begins December 22, 2019)
Air Caraibes Paris–Orly
Seasonal: San Salvador
Air Europa Madrid
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Transat Montréal–Trudeau, Québec City, Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Hamilton (ON), London (ON), Moncton, Ottawa, Windsor, Winnipeg
American Airlines Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York–JFK
Avianca Bogotá
Avianca Ecuador Charter: Quito
Avianca Peru Lima
British Airways London–Gatwick
Condor Frankfurt, Munich
Seasonal: Düsseldorf
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Copa Airlines Colombia Panama City–Tocumen
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Eastern Airlines Seasonal: Montreal–Trudeau, Miami
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Eurowings Düsseldorf
Seasonal: Munich
Evelop Airlines Madrid
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki (begins December 13, 2019)[10]
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Orlando, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Cincinnati (ends August 30, 2019), Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis
Gol Transportes Aéreos São Paulo–Guarulhos
I-Fly Seasonal charter: Moscow–Vnukovo
IrAero Seasonal charter: Moscow–Domodedovo
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK, San Juan
LATAM Brasil Seasonal: Brasília
LATAM Chile Miami, Santiago de Chile
LATAM Perú Lima
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal charter: Warsaw–Chopin
Magni Seasonal charter: Monterrey
Nordwind Airlines Seasonal: Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Orbest Seasonal: Lisbon
Rossiya Airlines Seasonal Charter: Moscow–Vnukovo
Royal Flight Seasonal: Moscow–Sheremetyevo (begins August 3, 2019)
Rutaca Airlines Caracas
Servicios Aéreos Profesionales Charter: Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, Holguin, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port of Spain, St. Maarten, Santo Domingo–Las Américas, Varadero
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Fort Lauderdale, St Louis
Seasonal: Houston–Hobby
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Providence (begins November 16, 2019)[11]
Sunwing Airlines Montreal–Trudeau, Québec City, Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton (ON), Kitchener/Waterloo, Mont-Joli, Ottawa, Sept-Îles, Thunder Bay, Vancouver, Winnipeg
TAME Charter: Quito
Thomas Cook Airlines Manchester (UK)
Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia Charter: Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Travel Service Polska Seasonal charter: Warsaw–Chopin
TUI Airways London–Gatwick, Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham
Seasonal charter: Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda
TUI fly Belgium Brussels
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam
Seasonal charter: Katowice, Poznań, Warsaw–Chopin
Turpial Airlines Valencia (VE)
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Washington–Dulles
Wamos Air Madrid
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary (begins December 13, 2019)[12]
Wingo Bogota
XL Airways France Paris–Charles de Gaulle


Busiest international routes from PUJ (January-October 2018)[13][dead link]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1   Toronto-Pearson 564,486 Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, WestJet
2   New York–JFK 458,203 American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue
3   Atlanta 401,635 Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Vacation Express
4   Panama City 389,327 Copa Airlines
5   Miami 357,537 American Airlines, LATAM Chile
6   Montréal 355,612 Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines
7   Moscow (Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo) 317,779 Aeroflot, Azur Air, I-Fly, Nordwind Airlines
8   Paris (Charles de Gaulle, Orly) 310,862 Air France, French Bee, XL Airways France
9   Lima 264,607 Avianca Perú, LATAM Perú
10   Charlotte 253,096 American Airlines, Vacation Express
11   Newark 248,549 United Airlines, Vacation Express
12   Chicago (O'Hare, Midway) 245,661 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Vacation Express
13   Bogota 229,371 Avianca, Wingo
14   Madrid 204,998 Air Europa, Evelop Airlines, Wamos Air
15   Fort Lauderdale 209,824 JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines
16   Philadelphia 193,476 American Airlines, Frontier Airlines
17   London 149,784 British Airways, TUI Airways
18   Baltimore-Washington 135,421 Southwest Airlines, Vacation Express
19   San Juan 123,234 JetBlue Airways
20   Manchester 110,136 Thomas Cook Airlines, TUI Airways
21   Frankfurt 97,759 Condor
22   Dusseldorf 89,570 Condor, Eurowings
23   Buenos Aires 88,667 Aerolineas Argentinas
24   Washington 82,924 United Airlines
25   Minneapolis 81,503 Delta Airlines, Sun Country Airlines
26   Boston 76,277 American Airlines, Apple Vacations, Delta Airlines, JetBlue
27   Brussels 74,104 TUI fly Belgium
28   Zurich 63,312 Edelweiss Air
29   Québec City 61,725 Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines
30   São Paulo 58,077 Gol Transportes Aereos
31   Houston 57,101 United Airlines
32   Cologne 56,693 Eurowings
33   Lisbon 55,427 Orbest
34   Munich 39,909 Condor, Eurowings
35   Dallas 36,250 American Airlines

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 few injuries but no fatalities among the 318 occupants of the aircraft and it was repaired and returned to service.[14]

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 Munoz Marin 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.[15]

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.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Grupo PuntaCana". Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "– Airport Information".
  4. ^ a b Major, Brian (22 January 2015). "North Americans Drove Dominican Republic's Record 2014 Tourism Growth". travAlliancemedia. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  5. ^ Airport, Punta Cana International. "The Official Website of Punta Cana International AirportDominican Republic flights to Punta Cana International Airport". Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  6. ^ "PUJ is ready to inaugurate modern, convenient air travel with Terminal B". Puntacana Blogs. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  7. ^ Busiest Dominican airport to have U.S. Customs, Immigration station, Nuevo Diario reports Archived 8 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine from the Dominican Times retrieved 25 July 2008
  8. ^ "Bavaro News; Year X; edition 287; page 4". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Air Canada / Air Canada rouge W19 Sun Destinations service changes as of 16JUL19". RoutesOnline. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  10. ^ Finnair opens new routes to Sapporo and Punta Cana for winter 2019/2020 news.cision 14 Jan 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Liu, Jim. "WestJet schedules new Sun Destinations service in W19". Routesonline. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Statistical Report on Air Transportation in Dominican Republic 2016" (PDF).
  14. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-31KER C-GLMC Punta Cana Airport". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Se incendia avión que despegó desde San Juan". El Nuevo Dia. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  16. ^ "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