Flamingo International Airport or Bonaire International Airport (IATA: BON, ICAO: TNCB) is an international airport located at Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. Flamingo Airport serves as a connecting point for flights of KLM to some destinations in South America. It once served as a hub for BonaireExel, BonaireExpress, CuraçaoExel, CuraçaoExpress and now serves Dutch Antilles Express as its secondary hub and also EZAir serves Bonaire as its main airline, although the airline itself is based at Curaçao.
It is the third largest airport in the Netherlands Antilles, behind St.Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport and Curaçao's Hato International Airport and is the fourth largest between the islands of the Dutch Kingdom behind the already mentioned St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba's Queen Beatrix International Airport. Arkefly, Continental, Delta and KLM are currently the largest airline operators that operate flights to Bonaire.
The airport is large enough to accommodate most international widebody airliners such as the Boeing 747, the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A340, although the largest widebody type to operate to Bonaire today is the MD11 from KLM. It can also accommodate medium sized aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A310 as well as small aircraft such as the de Havilland Dash 8, ATR 42 and other such turboprop aircraft.
The airport is also the only pink airport in the world.
Bonaire's first airport was located near Tra'i Montaña Subi Blanku and walked across the current path of Kralendijk to Rincon. It was only a landing strip and a shelter. It was built in 1936 and is considered the place that is the beginning of aviation on Bonaire.
The construction work for this airport, began on September 23, 1935. The intention was to make a longer runway, but it proved impossible to see the more than 475 meters to make because the eastern portion of the land was very low. Part of the field had to be modified, in particular where the plane hitting the ground at the landing and rising. This area covered more than 100 metres from the runway which had to be paved with a mixture of sand and stone.
KLM decided on May 9, 1936, to take the risk to fly the first flight to Bonaire from Curaçao. The Oriol (Fokker F-XVIII "Snip), was chosen for this test. The first experimental landing was successful and also a historic moment. Therefore KLM decided to make the first official flight with passengers and was scheduled to be performed on May 31, 1936.
American soldiers arrived on Bonaire in the second half of 1943 and their commander stated that a new airport had to be built. In December 1943, construction began in the vicinity of where the present airport now stands. The new airport, named "Flamingo Airport", was put into use in 1945. This was a big step forward for Bonaire and its aviation system. A small terminal was built that was suitable for the number of passengers at the time. This building was used until mid 1976.
The construction of a new runway began in the last months of 1953 and was completed in 1955. The small terminal had been extended with a terrace where luggage could be delivered. The runway was extended and expanded several times. In 1960, the runway had a length of 1430 meters and a width of 30 meters. Hotels and interested parties on the island continued to push for a further extension of the runway so that charter flights from the United States were able to land here. Those flights were often performed with DC8 or B707 aircraft. In 1970, the runway was extended to 1750 meters long and 30 meters wide, enough for a DC9 to land and take-off with full load. On June 7, 1974, a public tender for the construction of a new terminal building was made. The building became operational in 1976. Meanwhile, hotels and foreign investors continued to insist that the runway be extended further. This was needed before any more hotels could be built. In 1980 the runway was again extended to 2400 meter long and 45 meters wide, and in 2000 another extension resulted in the current length of 2880 meter to facilitate the largest airliners on intercontinental flights.
Dutch carrier, KLM, started in 2000 using this airport to refuel planes en route from Amsterdam to Ecuador
Airport information & facilities
The first Bonaire-Miami flight took place on April 19, 1980, possible since the runway extension of that year. The current runway of 2880m is long enough for flights to Europe with a maximum take-off weight. KLM began with flights to Peru and later to Ecuador with a fuelstop on Bonaire in 2002. In recent years, the facilities at the airport have been modernized and expanded. There is a new departure hall, a new platform for wide body aircraft and a fuel farm was also added. As of 2009, Flamingo Airport is a full service stop for transit flights and the destination for many tourist flights, with air-conditioned offices, restaurant, departure hall and stores.
The airport registered a more than 10% increase in passengers in the first quarter of 2008. March was a record month and the increase has a lot to do with the Delta and Continental Airlines flights. Compared to the same period last year also the local passengers increased by 10.6%. International traffic increased by 8.8% which is breakthrough for the airport for Bonaire.
Since November 2005, visitors and tourists arrving at Bonaire are welcomed to a vibrant new Business and Tourism Showcase. A variety of colorful murals, vivid flat-panel displays, and high profile sponsored windsurfing sails will showcase all that the island of Bonaire has to offer. Pennsylvania-based Interspace Airport Advertising, through its subsidiary, Interspace Airport Advertising Curaçao, N.V., created the new terminal-wide advertising display program. Interspace will also manage the program through a 10-year partnership with the airport authority.
The airport has two main ramps. The smaller ramp, which is situated in front of the airport building. The ramp consist of 4 parking spots (PP1, PP2, PP3 and PP4) and is naimly used by smaller operating aircraft such as, DAE, Divi Divi, EZAir, Tiara Air and Insel Air, along with the larger Delta, Continental and Arkefly aircraft when the larger apron is in use by another large aircraft. The larger one is used for wide bodied aircraft such as KLM and Arkefly, but is also used by Continental Airlines, Delta and Insel Air, when vacant. The Larger ramp consist of two parking spots (PP5 and PP6). The management of the airport is currently working on the apron to allow two wide-bodied aircraft to park alongside each other, with the use of pushback cars, when ready for departure. At the beginning of the runway, lies the General Aviation's ramp, where mostl private aircraft are located. Due to overcrowding of the GA Ramp, some private aircraft utilize the larger ramp, at PP6 to park when overnighting and long stays.
In the past, the airport has been served by Air ABC, Air ALM, Air Aruba, Air Europe (Italy), Air Jamaica, American Eagle (Executive Airlines), Avensa, Avior Airlines, Bonaire Express/Curaçao Express (now Dutch Antilles Express), Canada 3000, Cats Air, Dutch Caribbean Airlines, Línea Turística Aereotuy, Martinair, Miami Air International, Royal Aruban Airlines, Servivensa, Sobelair and Surinam Airways.
BonAeroClub also offers sightseeing opportunities and also flight lessons with their Cessna 172.
Parking system & charges
Since May 2008, Bonaire International Airport (BIA) has started with the renovation of the parking places at Flamingo Airport. The airport introduces short- and long-term paid parking. Financial manager Gerard Chin-A-Lien indicated that the project will cost US$2.1 million. Most of this money will be spent on paving, installing the automatic parking system, landscaping, and lighting. This service official started on 5 September 2008. It is not possible to drop off passengers for free since August 2009 as you have to pay 1 guilder for the first 30 minutes and 1 guilder for each 30 minutes after that with a maximum of 20 guilders per day. Long parking costs 10 guilders per day. According to security manager Tico Wanga, a lot of attention is paid to safety with sufficient lights and cameras everywhere, and patrolling security personnel.
Check-In System and Airport TAX fee
In October 2008, Bonaire introduced the new CUTE system from SITA. CUTE stands for Common Use Terminal Equipment. This is a common use system whereby all airlines can use each of the 12 available check-in counters at Flamingo Airport. More flexibility is obtained while the processing capacity of passengers at the check-in counters is increased and made more efficient. The older check-in system worked with so-called dedicated check-in counters which were usable by only one particular airline and could not be used by other airlines, thus restricting processing capacity.
Due to the introduction of this new system, Bonaire International Airport N.V. will charge each departing passenger a service charge, starting December 1, 2008. This service charge amounts to 3.00 guilders (about US$1.69) and will be added to the existing passenger facility charge (airport tax).
It is planned to expand the current airport building as more airlines and tourists come to Bonaire. It is also planned to expand the current departure and arrival hall of the airport to meet the standards of the amount of tourists that will be visiting the airport in the coming years and to repair the airport's runway after certain speculations that the runway had a crack in it. The Dutch Transport Minister, Camiel Eurlings, calculates that it will cost about €20 million (57 million guilders) to repair Bonaire's worn-out Flamingo International Airport runway. Since Bonaire is going to be the responsibility of the Netherlands, including ownership of the airport, it must comply with European standards, which are much stricter than the ICAO standards. Recently, the worldwide civil aviation authority conducted an audit on all of the airports within the Dutch Kingdom (including the rest of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba) and said that they are just within standards. "Regarding the condition of the airport of Bonaire, there is no need to panic, there is no acute danger, only overdue maintenance. The runway needs heavy renovations and the people of Bonaire need a vital airport," concluded Eurlings.
The management of the airport is drawing up a master plan to comply with international requirements. There are three important projects planned which include:
Management is working very hard to make sure that Bonaire International Airport is as safe as possible and this way could welcome the aircraft that come to Bonaire and contribute to the growth of the tourism on the island.
Airlines and destinations
Between 2000 and 2003 the airport saw a ongoing grow in passengers and freight but some decline since 2004
Runway and approach
The single runway 10/28 is 2880 meter long and 45 m. wide. The actual heading is 92° or 272°. For runway 10 a Simple Approach Landing System is in place, for runway 28 no visual approach aids are available. Lighting of runway complies with all current regulations and back-up power system is available.
Flamingo International Airport operates a Non-directional beacon on 321 KHz
General aviation facilities
Apart from the passenger terminal Bonaire Airport has facilities for freight and mail. Catering is available since Goddard Catering opened an airline kitchen on the island in 2003 offering complete airline catering. The Aruba kitchen uses ready-made imported frozen hot meals and locally made salads and appetizers.
Three local ground handlers operate at Bonaire airport.
Swissport also serves as one of the cargo and aircraft ground handling service on the island. Swissport is the ground handling agent for Arkefly (Curaçao), DAE (Curaçao) & Insel Air (Curaçao). The handling of DAE & Insel Air is speculated to be under a partnership with Air Handling Services Bonaire.
Aviation Jet A1 fuel is available 24 hours a day via Valero Bonaire Fuels Co N.V., owned by Valero Energy Corporation. On-site capacity of the tank-farm consists of two storage tanks of 630.000 gallons each. Every other week jet fuel is delivered to the island via a tanker from their own refinery at Aruba. Valero operates a direct pipeline from their landing-jetty to the airport. Two refueller trucks each with 15.000 gallons and one with 10.000 gallons are available.
The airport is categorized as Fire Category 9 and on-site equipment includes 4 crashtenders and one rapid-intervention unit.
Incidents and accidents
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