N591EL                Airbus A318-111                Avianca          (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

It had been 23 years since I returned last year January to Curaçao. The last time I visited, the airport was still the home of the now defunct ALM and KLM was operating to Amsterdam with a mix of 747-300’s, the last DC10’s and MD11’s. You could always see a lot of vintage props such as DC3’s and DC6’s or even Caravelles from Venezuela and Colombia. I enjoyed my stay last year so much that I did not want to wait another 23 years . . . So back again . . .


N9008U                Airbus A319-115                American Airlines               (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

HI914               McDonnell Douglas MD-82             PAWA            (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

PH-BFB               Boeing 747-406            KLM       (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

PH-TFL             Boeing 787-8       TUI         (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)
The moment we landed with the KLM B747-400 PH-BFN at Hato, it felt like a “welcome back”. The main ramp was filled with two TUI 787’s, Air Berlin A330-200, PAWA MD80 and an American A319. I was surprised to see almost all jet aircraft of Insel Air parked at their maintenance facilities. All MD80’s were parked as well as the FK70’s except for the recent arrived P4-FKD operating in an all-white colour scheme. All four former KLM Cityhopper FK50’s were in a derelict state and will never fly again. The sole operating FK50’s are the four former Avianca ones. A very sad sight. Even the three recent acquired FK70’s were parked and two of them were stripped for parts, but could still be made airworthy. It is the result of the recent financial turmoil at Insel Air. Meanwhile a new management has been installed, led by a Canadian COO who also returned Caribbean Airways to profitability . . . . Furthermore the State has injected 16 million USD. Currently the airline is resuming operations with the FK50’s and the sole FK70. Furthermore the airline wet leases two B737’s from Swiftair to operate on the Miami flights, Fly Allways is operating their FK70 on the Insel Air Paramaribo flight and Dominican Wings operates the St Maarten/Port au Prince flight.
A former Alitalia MD80 which was being used for spares, has now been totally broken up.


P4-MDG                McDonnell Douglas MD-83               InselAir                (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

PJ-KVM                Fokker F27 Mk0050           InselAir                      (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

PJ-KVN                   Fokker F27 Mk0050           InselAir                    (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

PJ-MDE                  McDonnell Douglas MD-82             InselAir                   (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)
Getting into the terminal I realized this was not the terminal I used to know 23 years ago.
In July 2006 the new Terminal was opened and has a capacity of 1.7 million passengers. The new terminal, in Dutch Caribbean architecture, provides all services which are required for a modern airport. However right now the terminal already operates at its limits and currently the airport is being expanded to provide capacity for 2.5 million passengers per year.
The airport is managed by Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), which is part of an international consortium A-Port SA (Brasil) and currently has a license to develop and manage the airport for a period of 30 years.

Getting through immigration within minutes, I noticed two arrival luggage belts and a tax free shop. After clearing customs, the doors opened to the open air meet and greet space. From there it was a few steps to the car rental offices which are located in the old terminal I used to know. Furthermore some airline ticket offices can be found here. A total of USD 48 Million will be invested up to 2018 in order to provide the capacity growth. The airport will get as well another departure gate making it a total of six capable to dock from FK70 to B747.

With the rapid growth of Insel Air until last fall, the airport was growing the number of destinations served very fast. Many South American destinations can be reached from Curaçao, making it interesting for transfers at CUR. For European travellers it is easy to use any of the seven weekly Amsterdam services and switch at CUR to reach any of the South American destinations with only one stop. However the recent financial troubles of Insel Air slowed down the growth. It all depends on the new management of Insel Air how the future will look like.

PZ-TFA               Fokker F28- Mk0070          Fly AllWays          (Ton Jochems, 4 februari 2017)

C-FUCS                Boeing 737-8CT                   Westjet           (Ton Jochems, 29 januari 2017)

C-FYJP                Airbus A319-114            Air Canada Rouge             (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

YV153T          McDonnell Douglas MD-82             Aserca Airlines            (Ton Jochems, 2 februari 2017)

What traffic to expect at Curaçao?
As the island is blessed with a wonderful climate, a steady flow of tourists arrive from South America, USA, Canada and Europe throughout the year. Looking at the airlines and destinations served, it is easy to conclude that Amsterdam and the USA/Canada are the main tourism markets. Europe is served by KLM, 7 times a week by seven 747-400 flights, TUI Netherlands arrives daily with their Dreamliners and finally Air Berlin with two weekly Düsseldorf flights.
The American carriers are limited to American and JetBlue with a double daily Miami, a once weekly Charlotte flight and a twice weekly JFK. Furthermore Insel Air operates daily to Miami. Canadian connections are served by Air Canada, (YMX) A319/A320 and Air Canada Rouge (YYZ) A319/A320 and Westjet B737-800W (YYZ) plus some weekly charters from Toronto and Montreal operated by Sunwing and Air Transat B737-800.
Regional operators can be expected from Venezuela, being Rutaca, Estelar, Aserca and Avior all operating with classic B737-200’s, B737-400 and MD80’s to Caracas, Las Piedras, Valencia and Maracaibo; PAWA DC9-30, MD87 and MD80 from Santo Domingo; SLM B737-300 from Paramaribo; Avianca A318/A319 to Bogota; COPA EMB190 to Panama City plus of course multiple flights from the two local companies Insel Air (FK50,70 and MD80) and Divi Air BN2 Islanders which operate multiple daily to Bonaire.

N438US                Boeing 737-4B7            Swift Air                (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

N741AX                Boeing 767-232(BDSF)            Amerijet International        (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

YV380T           Boeing 737-230(A)            Rutaca                  (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

YV485T                      McDonnell Douglas MD-83             SBA Airlines         (Ton Jochems, 4 februari 2017)

YV3158            Boeing 737-401             Avior Airlines       (Ton Jochems, 30 januari 2017)

Cargo is also playing a significant role for the airport. DHL operates almost daily to CCS with a mix of aircraft, being ATR42 or B734F; Amerijet operates B767-200F and B727-200F and even Air Bridge Cargo B747-800F and Qatar B777-200F are regular operators with flights originating in Quito and continuing to AMS with flowers. A lot of ad hoc charter cargo traffic can be expected. During my presence I noticed the LAS B727-200F several times which brought a load of fresh flowers which continued to Europe on the KLM B747-400.
With a 3400 x 60 meters runway 29/11 the airport can handle any type of aircraft. Therefore it is not uncommon to see unexpected visitors at the airport. Delivery flights, ferry flights, fuel stops; they all find their way to Curaçao.

Another important aspect of Curaçao airport is the military base. In the past the Dutch Navy had based two FK27 Maritimes and up to two Lockheed Orions for patrols in the Caribbean. Now the base is home to the Americans, English and Canadians, so quite some military movements can be seen. During my stay I noticed several Dash 8 surveillance aircraft. That was a bare minimum as normally you will see C17’s en KC135’s and P3’s as well. Apparently it is silent in Venezuela.

N31701 Beech 1900C      Ameriflight            (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

HK-4401               Boeing 727-2X3F               LAS (Lineas Aereas Suramuricanas)            (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

VQ-BFU Boeing 747-83QF               Air Bridge Cargo (Ton Jochems, 1 februari 2017)

For aviation enthusiasts the airport is a nice place to be as it offers nice photo opportunities. Do not expect a constant flow of traffic. Busiest times of the day are usually the mornings between 09:00 and 10:30 plus the afternoons as from 14:00 till 18:00 with both regional, American, Canadian and European traffic. The airport has a nice observation area located at the main road toward the terminal, giving you a birds eye view on both the ramps, taxiways and the terminal. For this position a 300 mm zoom lens is required. During the whole day the sun is positioned behind you, so perfect for photography. Another good vantage point is when driving towards the parking space of the HATO Caves. Aircraft needing full length when landing or departing on runway 11 will vacate the runway or depart in front of you. When runway 29 is in use, not very often though as 11 is the usual direction, all traffic will pass by. Another vantage point is in the area close to touch down and alongside the taxi way to runway 11. A 200 mm zoom lens is sufficient. Mind the road to this spot is a dirt road and there are no facilities around, so take plenty of water and sun cream with you!

All in all Curaçao is a nice airport to visit and catch up with some of the local traffic.

Destinations Map below.


Credit: Ton Jochems