Gran Canaria is a public international airport located on one of Spain’s famous Canary Islands, which are popular destinations for local and international tourists. The airport is informally known as Las Palmas Airport, and formerly referred to as Gando, or in Spanish, the Aeropuerto de Gran Canaria. It is also recognized by its IATA code of LPA, and ICAO code of GCLP and is the fifth largest airport in Spain, with almost ten million passengers in 2010. The location is also a hub for a number of airline carriers, such as Binter Canarias, Islas Airways, Naysa and Ryanair, a popular low-cost airline company. Being one of Aena’s famous destinations, the airport is well equipped with all the facilities required by its passengers.
The Airport is located on the eastern coast, just 18 km from the capital city of the island and the province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Bay of Gando. The airport is also only 25 km, or 16 miles from the southern area of the island, where some of the main tourist destinations can be found, such as Playa del Inglés and Playa del Aguila. The position of Gran Canaria falls under the municipalities of Ingenio and Telde, and the main access road is the GC-1, which runs from the south of the island to the capital city in the north. The GC-1 motorway is also known as the Autovia Las Palmas-Puerto Rico, and runs directly past the western side, which is where the terminal building is found. Motorists travelling to the airport can use the coordinates of 27°55′55″N 015°23′12″W to help find their way. Alternatively, buses and taxies serve as a means of transport for passengers.
Passenger traffic at the airport has been over nine million per annum since 2001, while the years of 2006 to 2008 saw over ten million passengers. Traffic in 2009 dropped by just over a million, but the most recent year ending on a higher note, with an increase in traffic by 3.6%. The total passengers recorded for 2010 was 9,486,035. The airline carrier of Ryanair, vote as the world’s favourite airline, announced in early 2011 that three of the Canary Islands will become new bases for their operations. These islands included Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife, which will each be dedicated two aircraft, handling 35 new routes from the airports. Ryanair will now operate 112 routes to the Canary Islands, delivering 4.5 million passengers per annum. New destinations from Gran Canaria will include Milan, Santiago, Seville, Valencia, Knock and Cork.
The airline companies of Binter Canarias, Naysa, Islas Airways and Air Europa handle flights to the other Canary Islands, which are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma and La Gomera, while Spanair offers flights to Barcelona and Madrid on mainland Spain. Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways are another two popular airline carriers serving Gran Canaria Airport, with destinations such as Birmingham, the London airports of Luton, Stansted and Gatwick, Glasgow-International, Leeds/Bradford and Manchester. A wide variety of other airline companies operate from the location as well, including Easyjet, Iberia, Air Berlin, Air Italy, Austrian Airways, Condor, Monarch, Luxair, Swiss International Airlines and Vueling, with flights to Malaga and Seville.
The airport of Gran Canaria dates back to 1930, and the first passenger flight from Gando took place in 1933. The airport was then considered to be a main route between the Canary Islands and Madrid. Further improvements were made, including the building of the passenger terminal in 1946, and a proper surface runway in 1948, of 700 metres in length. A few years later the runway was extended to 2,000 metres of tarmac surface, and Gran Canaria was classed as a secondary category facility. The control tower facilities and navigational aids were also improved. In 1960 the runway was extended again, this time to 3,100 metres, and with other installations and the construction of a rescue and services park, Gran Canaria was upgraded to a first category airport. In later years, a new passenger building was completed, and a second runway was inaugurated, allowing a significant increase in passenger traffic. In 1991, the passenger building was enlarged once again, and remodelled.
The airport is today also used for military purposes, as it has an airbase of the Spanish Air Force to the east of its runways, and the Gando Air Base, with ten shelters on the southern end of the eastern runway. The two lengthy runways, each of 3,100 metres provide an alternative landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle as well. The single terminal building is divided into three zones, known as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, with a total of 96 check-in desks and 38 boarding gates. Zone A is dedicated to flights within the European Union, and Zone B is used for non-EU international flights. The third zone is used for inter-island traffic, or regional flights. The different areas of the airport are well signposted, in English, German and Spanish. All departures are handled from the first floor, and arrivals on the ground floor, with three baggage reclaim areas, one for each zone. Facilities on site include a VIP lounge known as the Galdós Lounge, a conference hall, a branch of the Caja Canarias Bank, and several shops and restaurants. There is also a play area for children, and the terminal is fully accessible for disabled passengers.
The operator of Gran Canaria Airport is Aena Aeropuertos, one of the world’s leading airport management companies. Aena operates 47 airports and 2 heliports in Spain, and participates either directly or indirectly in the management of a further 28 sites worldwide. Most of them are known to be highly efficient and well organized, with Gran Canaria as no exception. Passengers can make enquiries at 902 404 704.