Los Altos Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Los Altos, IATA: AAZ, ICAO: MGQZ), also known as Quetzaltenango Airport, serves the city of Quetzaltenango, also known as "Xelajú" or "Xela," and western Guatemala. It is operated and administrated by Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil de Guatemala (DGAC).
Los Altos Airport is in a high elevation basin in the Guatemalan highlands, in the northeastern part of the city of Quetzaltenango. There is a mountain ridge 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) north of the runway, and distant mountainous terrain in all other quadrants.
The Tapachula VOR-DME (Ident: TAP) is located 50.9 nautical miles (94.3 km) west of the airport. The Quetzaltenango non-directional beacon (Ident: XLA) is located on the field.
The airport has undergone construction work as part of a nationwide airport rehabilitation program. Serving Guatemala's second largest city, the airport aims to gain international status, along with La Aurora International Airport and Mundo Maya International Airport. The region hopes to profit economically from this new airport. So far, the closest airport to Quetzaltenango with regular airline connections was 200 km (120 mi) away in Guatemala City. Until 2006, the airfield had only a grass runway. It had no significant terminal building and only a small hangar. Air traffic was limited due to lack of features for safe operation. In September 2006 construction work began, which included:
An emergency operations center has been installed at the airport in order to respond to future disasters like hurricane Stan. The new runway was inaugurated by President Óscar Berger on January 10, 2008.
Aviation in Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango 1 is the name of the first aircraft built in Central America, Miguel Angel Castro Conde is responsible for the airplane with the name Quetzaltenango 1, a plane he built with the help of his son, becoming the first constructor of an aircraft in Guatemala.
On May 12, 2003 After the first flight that lasted 30 minutes, followed by further testing done only to a volunteer who offered to accompany him, now see it is regular with his son and friends who ask you to take them to feel Quetzaltenango the excitement of seeing a plane built in this city.
In 2016, the airport handled 2,937 passengers.
On 1 November 1998 a Douglas DC-3 (N3FY) carrying 18 crew and passengers crashed near the airport into mountainous terrain. Bad weather during approach is the probable cause. There were 11 fatalities.
On 13 October 1999 a private Bell 206 helicopter (TG-AMA) crashed near Quetzaltenango. Both occupants were killed.
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