Bogota’s El Dorado Is Key For Avianca – Here’s Why

Avianca is trying to push Bogota’s International Airport (best known as El Dorado) as its main hub. The airline is already putting the pieces together to create more connections out of this hub, said CAPA. Can they do it? Let’s investigate what that means.

Avianca Getty
Bogota’s Airport is extremely important for Avianca’s future. Photo: Getty Images

El Dorado’s importance in Latin America

Currently, El Dorado is the third most important airport in Latin America, behind Sao Paulo and Mexico City. In 2019, it received approximately 35 million passengers and had a route map of over 42 national destinations and 48 international.

“Thanks to the constant growth in the number of passengers, Colombia is now the fourth country worldwide with the biggest growth, just behind Vietnam, India, and Iran,” said the airport in a statement in February.


Avianca is the biggest of the 27 airlines that fly to and from Bogota. The carrier has 59 destinations. After it, the state-owned regional carrier SATENA has 18 destinations, LATAM with 16, and then Viva Air Colombia and Wingo, both with 14.


The geographical position of Colombia also makes El Dorado one of the most promising airports for Latin America. Other cities with the privilege of a good geographical position are Panama and Mexico City. Though, Bogota has to face some altitude issues that make it a challenge for long-haul operations.

But, as it happens with many other airports in the region, El Dorado’s infrastructure is not coping with the country’s growth.

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Avianca is the biggest operator in Bogota. Photo: Getty Images

IATA supports the expansion in El Dorado

Over the last few years, there’s been a discussion in Colombia about whether to build a second airport in Bogota or another runway and extra infrastructure in El Dorado. Last month, IATA reaffirmed its support for El Dorado’s expansion. As a result, the organization said regional connectivity in the country would be affected by two airports. For example, we’ve seen how that fails in big cities like Buenos Aires, and we might see it in the near future in Mexico City.

IATA said,

“The discussion about building a second airport has recently reopened. However, relocating part of civil aviation operations would be detrimental to El Dorado’s competitiveness with respect to other key airports in the region.”

For Avianca, it would be glorious if the new runway in El Dorado is actually built. Last month, the carrier launched a new regional airline, Avianca Express. One of the hubs for this new ATR-based carrier is Bogota.

“It is essential that (Colombia’s) main hub airport El Dorado in Bogota be expanded to handle the predicted demand in the coming 20 years,” said Peter Cerda, IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas.

Avianca Express ATR
Avianca recently launched Avianca Express, a regional carrier for Colombia. Photo: Avianca

Should Avianca put its future in Bogota?

“We think it should. Colombia has great potential as an air market,” said IATA. Currently, its market is heavily skewed towards domestic passengers and Avianca has the upper hand in that regard. With Avianca Express, the company can go toe-to-toe with regional low-cost carriers such as Viva Air.

Also, over the last few months, Avianca has managed to turn around the fate of the company. Yes, it lost over $894 million USD in 2019’s last quarter, but the future is bright. Avianca has launched new international routes from Bogota to Toronto and Porto Alegre, while also signing new codeshares with TAP. We think Bogota’s and Avianca’s growth will go hand in hand.

We contacted Avianca for comment for this article. At the time of publication, we had no response, but we’ll keep you updated if that changes.

Should Avianca focus its efforts in Bogota? Let us know in the comments. 


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Paul B

BOG already has a second runway – look at google earth. Not sure what you mean by considering a second runway


skbo already has 2 runways..a 3rd would be very expensive because the city has grown around el dorado…you fail to mention that at 8300ft field elevation …skbo has it’s aircraft performance limitations= reason historically we see fuel/tech stops in cali/cartagena/caracas or panama

Tim Jones

It already has 2 active runways! Just been there on a plane spotting trip


Bogota has had two runways for more than 30 years. The main concern currently has to do with flow management, current slots exceed the airport capacity and flights are constantly delayed between 2/3 hours specially in the afternoon. A third runway as dan said would be expensive and for sure… Read more »


I think a second airport would be a way better option. Yes it would be far more expensive, but it would be better on the long run, a new train line is being built from the city to where the second airport is being planned. Also, due to the altitude… Read more »


avianca express is not NEW…it has been around forever …just with other names, like aerotaxi with dehavilland beavers or beech queen aires…and later Hs-748’s or name change to SAM (sociedad aeronautica medellin) with avro Rj’s and later Fokker F-50’s…basically the idea is always the same DIVIDE the airline and it’s… Read more »

Paul M

The future is bright? With even the mainstream carriers like IAG under huge pressure Avianca are unlikely (unless the Colombian government intervenes) to survive the next few weeks. If nothing else look at the share price action (my wife is a shareholder by way of disclosure). Avianca might have survived… Read more »

Dominic Yeo

Judging by AV ops and comparing that with CM at PTY, there is certainly scope. I think AV needs to pull an ANA, and significantly increase its 787 or I hear CAAC is most impressed with 330neos which will allow nonstop to Tokyo NRT. I think UA could potentially use… Read more »

Dominic Yeo

I think United and Delta will come to a consensus of friendly non-competition, with LATAM pulling back at BOG to focus on LIM, while AV focus on BOG, and they both share Copa. This consolidation will free up a lot of needless competition and free up slots. I can see… Read more »

Paul M

‘Is Avianca To Halt International Operations, Reduce Domestic Operations By 84%‘ Avianca’s future was always going to be tempered by its financial weakness. The massive expansion, including the Brazil operation had been a huge risk. Dollar obligations on aircraft leases when much of the income was in pesos from the… Read more »