José María Córdova International Airport (MDE/SKRG) is the second most important airport in the country after Bogota due to at 2018 the airport mobilized a little more than 8 million passengers with 80,129 operations. MDE/SKRG is located in the municipality of Rionegro but serves the entire metropolitan area of Medellin approximately 30 km / 50 min depending on the chosen route (there are 3 routes to get there) in addition to the car you can get there by taxi or bus from the city center.
The airport has national routes to all the main cities of the country due to the great presence of Avianca, Viva Air and Latam Colombia (regional routes and smaller cities are covered from the other airport in the city, Enrique Olaya Herrera – EOH). Internationally it has routes to cities in neighboring countries such as Lima, Panama City, Caracas and PorLaMar, covered by airlines such as VivaAir Peru, Copa Airlines, Air Panama, Wingo and Avior. To the north existing routes are to Mexico City and Cancun (seasonal) through Aeromexico, the Florida (MIA, FLL, MCO) with American Airlines, Spirit, Jetblue and Avianca (which also covers the route to JFK). Finally, the widebodies are seen on the transatlantic routes to MAD with Iberia (A332), Avianca (B788) and soon Air Europa (B788) in addition to the regular cargo operations with the presence of Avianca Cargo, Skylease Cargo, Latam Cargo mainly. Sometimes it is possible to see classics like the B727 and B732 of the local cargo airlines Aerosucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas.
The airport shares its infrastructure with the CACOM 5 of the Colombian Air Force, which is the main base for the Sikorsky UH-60 and AH-60 Arpia, as well some C-208 Grand Caravan.
The JMC also hosts the F-Air Colombia in which it is possible to see most of the aircraft of the Colombian Air Force, Army, Police and Naval Aviation.
Written by Alex Rivera (local spotter). Last Update: February 2019
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|Airport Information||Runways||01/19||3.557m / 11.670ft||Asphalt|
|Single terminal which hosts both – domestic and international|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Not needed.|
|Car||Car is recommended as you can react better with this as with public transport. But all spotting locations are accessible by public transport as well. For spots 1 to 3 the bus route is “airport-Rionegro” and for points 4 to 6 is the bus “Medellin-Airport”.|
|Restrooms||Just inside the terminal.|
|Drinks/Food||Not available at the locations with the exception of spot 4 inside the terminal. For all other spots you have to help your self in advance.|
|Hotels||The Santiago de Armas and Movich Las Lomas hotels are close to the airport.|
|Season||Basically all year, although there are months of heavy rain like April and May.|
|Security||In general, all places are safe but it is recommended not to go alone to the farthest ones.|
|Runway Usage||01/19||Runway 01 directions is the most used during the whole year for departures and arrivals but on some occasions runway 19 is used for takeoffs (very rarely for landings).|
|Spot #1 – “Morro de la 01” ( 01’s hill) – runway 01 arrivals and departures|
|WHERE||To get there from the terminal (by car or bus) take the road “El Tablazo – Rionegro” and 600 meters after passing the ALS you will find an small road without pavement on the left, there you must leave the car (there is no official parking, just stay at the corner to the main road) and start walking about 250 meters until you find a fence on the right (cross / jump it), finally climb another 120 meters by a small hill bordering the official fence of the airport.|
|WHAT||At this point you can photograph the arrivals and departures on the runway 01. Also some late 19er rotates.|
|TIME||The best hours to do spotting are in the morning between 6:00 and 11:50 am after noon the sun is in front.|
|MISC.||Sometimes Air Force soldiers patrol or camp there so they ask you to get away from the place. Be sure to use sunscreen.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70-400mm for arrivals and departures.|
|Spot #2 – “Luces de la cabecera” (ALS) – runway 01 arrivals|
|WHERE||The same to get the spot # 1 but stop when you get the lights at the head of the runaway by the road “El Tablazo – Rionegro”. You can’t park the car along the road but few meters before there is an space on the side of the road to stop for a small moment or use the one at spot #1.|
|WHAT||Perfect for photographing planes approaching runway 01.|
|TIME||Good all day as you can easily switch sides when the sun has done so as well.
|MISC.||In this place there isn’t shade and there is a heavy traffic of cars so it is necessary to be very careful. Taking pictures from here is not easy as there are powerlines on both sides of the road. The time frame to release the shutter is only 1-2 seconds.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||18-150mm for arrivals.|
|Spot #3 – “La Paralela” – runway 01 arrivals and departures|
|WHERE||The same of the previous spot but to access there you can’t leave the vehicle so it is recommended to arrive by bus or taxi and once being in the ALS walk along the fence on the left side approximately 750 meters.|
|WHAT||The best to see the airplanes taxiing towards the “headland” 01, for takeoffs and landings on this same runway and sometimes for runway 19 departures.|
|TIME||From noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||In this area there are many trees so you can have shade but it is very far from shops so you should bring drinks and food for the entire day. Its also recommended to use sunscreen and mosquito repellent.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||18-150mm for taxiway, 70-300mm for 01 arrivals/departures and 70-300mm for 19 departures.|
|Spot #4 – The terrace of the terminal – All movements|
|WHERE||In the middle of the passenger terminal on the second floor there is a dining area with large windows overlooking the ramp and runway. This terrace is located infront of security check so landside and can be reached without valid boaring pass as well.
|WHAT||Here you can see the movement on the ramp all departures and departures from the airport.|
|TIME||This place is ideal in the afternoon and sometimes in the nights if you know how to control the reflections in the windows.|
|MISC.||As its inside the passenger terminal there are toilets, a food court and security allows to take pictures of the aircraft.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70-300mm for all aircraft movements.|
|Spot #5 – International ramp’s fence – Arrival and departure of international flights|
|WHERE||When you leave the passenger terminal with direction to the cargo terminal is the ramp for bizjets around it there is only a fence from which you can take pictures when the aircraft are parking or in pushback.|
|WHAT||Here you can photograph private planes and some international ones when you use remote locations to park.|
|TIME||Recommended for photographs in the afternoon and evening but only for small moments.|
|MISC.||You can get there by walking from the passenger terminal but its prudent not to spend a lot of time there so that the airport security doesn’t bother you.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||18-150mm for all parked aircraft.|
|Spot #6 – Terpel Hill – Arrivals and departures from runway 01.|
|WHERE||250 meters before the cargo terminal there is a hill on the left which is reached by a small road, climbs about 150 meters to reach a curve with a space for parking.|
|WHAT||Here you can take pictures of the takeoffs on runway 01, some landings (depending on your lens) and the movement of the entire international ramp.|
|TIME||From noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Sometimes private security or the military do not allow to be there or not to park but this is occasional. Preferably carry a sweater or jacket especially at the end of the afternoon.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100-400mm for all movements because this is the furthest point from the aircraft.|