General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport (IATA: TIJ, ICAO: MMTJ) in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, is Mexico's second northernmost airport after Mexicali International Airport. Tijuana's airport is a busy, modern airport, which handled almost 4 million passengers in 2008 and 3.4 million passengers in 2009, representing a decrease of 14.1% over 2008; as former low cost carrier operator Avolar based in Tijuana suspended operations due to financial difficulties. It is the fifth busiest airport in Mexico after Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara and Monterrey airports. The airport can handle up to 10 million passengers per year and 360 flights per day.
The airport serves as focus city for Aeroméxico (together with Aeroméxico Connect), the leading airline in Tijuana, which operates up to 20 daily flights to/from 15 Mexican cities. Aeroméxico is trying to develop the airport as a gateway to Asia. Since the first flight in November 2006, Aeroméxico operates 2 weekly flights to Tokyo-Narita. Aeroméxico resumed services to Shanghai on March 26, 2010 after the airline halted service 11 months earlier due to the Swine flu outbreak. The airport serves as hub for Volaris, currently the second leading airline at TIJ, and the only one operating at both concourses. It formerly was a focus city for Aero California, Aerolíneas Internacionales, Líneas Aéreas Azteca, and ALMA de Mexico. Tijuana's airport was the largest and main hub for Avolar, a new low-cost airline (since August 2005), and the airport's second leading airline at a time. It was the first low-cost airline in Mexico, before some airlines as Interjet and Volaris.
It is part of the Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico, a holding group that controls 12 international airports in central and northern Mexico.
The airport opened in 1958, replacing Tijuana's former airport, then located on today's Aguacaliente Boulevard. The new airport's first terminal was built on the southwest part of the airport, facing the new and current terminal building. The airport was incorporated to ASA in 1965.
By the end of the 60's, the demand of flights to the then-developing city of Tijuana increased, as more passengers were arriving and settling in the city. The construction of the new terminal began and was opened in October 15, 1970, by then-President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.
The original terminal was then assigned as an air base for the Mexican Armed Forces, and it is now simply known as the aeropuerto viejo, or old airport. The terminal, however, is seldom referred as Terminal 1, with Main Terminal being referred as Terminal 2.
The airport is named after General Abelardo L. Rodríguez, Governor of Baja California, and late President of Mexico.
The airport terminal was expanded and renovated in 2002, when the extension of concourse A and B was built, allowing the terminal to double its capacity. Several taxiways were also expanded, to allow the operations of larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747. Nevertheless, as the airport has become one of the most important hubs and gateways in the country, and the only international gateway from Asia to Latinamerica, there is a plan of a new terminal, which could house the operations of the major airline at the airport: Aeroméxico (including Aeroméxico Connect). As of today, both of the concourses have been expanded and remodeled, including the progressive introduction of glass-jetways replacing the old ones.
On 2008, authorities from both Mexico and the United States launched Project Smart Border 2010, in which among other things, it was expressed the intention for building an alternate U.S.-Mexico terminal that would relieve the high congestion at San Diego International Airport. The project consists of terminal building built on U.S. soil, immediate to the border, with parking, check-in counters, and customs offices that would be linked via a bridge crossing the border to the Tijuana airport. Property on the U.S. side of the border has already been secured for this project, but planning, diplomatic and regulatory hurdles need to be cleared before any construction can begin.
The runway of the Tijuana Airport runs (east-west) parallel to the U.S.-Mexico border fence and is approximately 100 meters south of it. The approach to the runway is either from the east (normally) or from the west (when Santa Ana wind conditions exist). The airport's main runway is located just 30 meters away from the Autonomous University of Baja California.
Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM / KSDM) in San Diego, California lies just over one nm north of TIJ, with a similar runway length and a slightly different orientation (08 / 26). However SDM is a general aviation field not set up for scheduled passenger service.
Commercially speaking, the airport is composed of a single runway, a parallel taxiway, and a 23 gate main terminal with two concourses, a food court and a high-tech control tower, one of the tallest in Mexico. At the opposite side of the Main Terminal building there is another terminal, the Old Airport Terminal, which houses military aviation, mostly performed by the Mexican Armed Forces. The airport is also used to a lesser extent for general aviation, housed at the General Aviation Building (GAB Terminal).
Old Airport Terminal
Terminals, airlines and destinations
Old Airport Terminal
The Old Airport Terminal (known for locals as Aeropuerto Viejo, old airport) is set for aviation of the Mexican Military and federal police forces. This military airbase belongs to the Northwestern Region of the Mexican Air Force. One cargo airline operates at the terminal.
In-coming flights of this armed forces agencies usually arrive from the Mexican Air Force Central Region, mostly from Mexico City International Airport or nearby airbases.
Note: The General Aviation Building (GAB Terminal) is used for general/non-commercial aviation or private jets. The General Aviation Building is designed to receive up to 120 persons per hour and it has all the services for the convenience of passengers during their private flights. It has a surface of 420 sq. mts. [4,700 sq. ft.], where there are government offices, administrative offices, a pilots lounge and passenger lounge. Two aviation schools are based at this terminal, along with one cargo airline operating there.
The airport may be reached from Downtown Tijuana or Zona Rio by local bus. It costs $8.50 MXP ($.70 USD).
Aeroméxico provides a shuttle service from San Diego, California, United States to General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport to allow San Diego residents make connections within Mexico, Japan,, while Volaris provides a shuttle service between the airport and San Diego International Airport to allow passengers travelling either to Mexico or the United States reach their final destination.
Due to a prohibition by Mexican law, Mexican cities' public taxis may only drop passengers to the airport, but cannot pick up passengers from the terminal. The airport thus offers transportation for passengers from the terminal to any point of the city on the SAAT Taxis (Servicio Aeroportuario de Autotransporte Terrestre, Spanish for Terrestrial Transport Airport Service, an airport government-leased taxi company). This and other authorized taxi carriers may be reached at the arrivals hall.
Incidents and accidents
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