El Paso International Airport

El Paso International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner City of El Paso
Operator El Paso Aviation Department
Serves El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Location El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Elevation AMSL 3,958 ft / 1,206 m
Coordinates 31°48′26″N 106°22′39″W / 31.80722°N 106.37750°W / 31.80722; -106.37750Coordinates: 31°48′26″N 106°22′39″W / 31.80722°N 106.37750°W / 31.80722; -106.37750
Website elpasointernationalairport.com
Location within Texas
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 12,020 3,664 Asphalt
8R/26L 9,025 2,751 Asphalt
8L/26R 5,493 1,674 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Passengers 2,929,362
Aircraft operations 74,899

El Paso International Airport ((IATA: ELP, ICAO: KELP, FAA LID: ELP); Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de El Paso) is a public airport four miles (6 km) northeast of downtown El Paso, in El Paso County, Texas, United States. It is the largest commercial airport in West Texas, handling 2,778,248 passengers in 2014.[3] The airport is primarily for the El Paso–Las Cruces Combined Statistical Area.


The City of El Paso built the first El Paso Municipal Airport near the east side of the Franklin Mountains in 1928. The airport was closed by 1945 and in more recent times has been home to the Jobe Concrete Products "Planeport" cement factory.[4] In 1934, Varney Speed Lines (now United Airlines) operated at the original El Paso Municipal Airport (now closed). The original El Paso Municipal Airport construction was inspired by a visit from Charles Lindbergh.

What became the present-day El Paso International Airport was built as Standard Airport by Standard Airlines in 1929 for transcontinental air mail service. Standard Airlines became a division of American Airlines in the 1930s. In 1936, American Airlines "swapped" airports with the City of El Paso and El Paso International Airport was born.[4]

During World War II, the airport was a United States Army Air Forces training base. Units which trained at El Paso Army Airfield were:

  • 385th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (B-17 Flying Fortress) December 21, 1942 – February 1, 1943
    • Served with the 8th Air Force in England.
  • 491st Bombardment Group (Heavy) (B-24 Liberator) November 11, 1943 – January 1, 1944
    • Served with the 8th Air Force in England.
  • 497th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) (B-29 Superfortress) November 20–December 1, 1943
    • Served with the 20th Air Force at Saipan.

At the end of the war the airfield was deemed excess by the military and returned to the local government for civil use. The April 1952 C&GS diagram shows runways 4, 8, 12 and 17, each 7001 to 7062 ft long.

El Paso was the last stop of the first hijacking of a jetliner, a Boeing 707 owned by Continental Airlines. Before airline deregulation in the United States, El Paso was a focus city for Continental but was soon demoted to a standard station in a hub-and-spoke system under Frank Lorenzo. The airline had a pilot base that was closed in 1963 but re-opened in 1977.

The passenger concourses were built in 1971 as part of an expansion that tripled the size of the airport.[5] It was designed by Garland & Hilles.[6]

Serving general aviation at El Paso International Airport, Cutter Aviation established a fixed-base operation in 1982. Cutter Aviation moved to a new facility on Shuttle Columbia Drive in 2006. Atlantic Aviation also serves general aviation at ELP.

Historical airline service

Standard Air Lines began service to and from El Paso in 1929 with a single flight to and from Los Angeles via Douglas, Tucson, and Phoenix, Arizona.[7] Standard was taken over by American Airlines in October, 1930. The El Paso airport was relocated to its present location. American began providing service from El Paso in the 1930s to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles (via Tucson and Phoenix), and Mexico City (via Monterrey, Mexico). By the 1970s and 1980s, American provided non-stop service from El Paso to New York JFK, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.

In 1934, El Paso based Varney Speed Lines provided flights from El Paso to Albuquerque and Pueblo, Colorado, with several stops within New Mexico. By 1937, the airline had changed its named to Continental Airlines and relocated its headquarters to Denver, Colorado. El Paso was still a major hub for the airline. By the 1960s through the early 1980s, Continental provided non-stop flights from El Paso to Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Tucson, as well as flights to Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Ixtapa, and La Paz in Mexico. By the mid 1980s, Continental no longer used El Paso as a focus hub and service was limited to Houston and Denver however flights were operated to Mexico City for a short time in the early 1990s. In 2010, Continental merged with United Airlines.

Both American and Continental Airlines each operated wide body Douglas DC-10 jumbo jets through El Paso in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the early 1950s, Frontier Airlines operated flights from El Paso to Phoenix with many stops in New Mexico and Arizona. In 1963, Frontier returned to El Paso with service to Alamogordo and Albuquerque then continued onto Denver or Salt Lake City with several other stops. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Frontier provided non-stop flights from El Paso to Albuquerque and Denver, as well as to Mazatlán, Guadalajara, Ixtapa, Manzanillo, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Frontier Airlines ceased operations in 1986. The new Frontier Airlines began service from El Paso to Albuquerque and Denver from 1994 through 2004 then nonstop flights to Denver until service was terminated in 2009. Frontier will return to El Paso once again in 2018.

Trans-Texas Airways (TTA) was the fourth carrier to serve El Paso beginning in the late 1940s operating DC-3's on routes to Dallas and Houston that made many stops, first at either Marfa or Pecos, Texas. In the mid-1960s the carrier redirected their routes through Carlsbad, New Mexico operating Convair 600 aircraft and through Midland/Odessa, Texas operating DC-9 jets. TTA changed its name to Texas International Airlines in 1969 and by the mid-1970s began operating DC-9's to Roswell, NM. The carrier ended service in 1977 but returned in 1980 with nonstop flights to Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. All service ended again in 1982 when Texas International merged into Continental Airlines.

After airline deregulation in 1979 many other airlines began serving El Paso including:

  • Aeromexico (Chihuahua, Chih, MX) 1994–2006
  • Air Ruidoso (Ruidoso) 1987–1988
  • Airways of New Mexico (Alamogordo, Roswell, Silver City, Tucson) 1977–1985
  • Allegiant Airlines (Las Vegas, Oakland, Orlando, San Diego) 2016–present
  • America West Airlines (Albuquerque, Austin, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson) 1984–2007
  • American Airlines (Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Douglas/Bisbee, Los Angeles, Midland/Odessa, Monterrey MX, New York City JFK, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco, Tucson) 1930–1980s
  • (Albuquerque, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Phoenix) late 1980s–present
  • Arizona Airways (Tucson) 1994–1995
  • Aztec Airways (Douglas, Las Cruces, Silver City) 1966–1967
  • Azteca Airlines (Mexico City) 2003
  • Bison Airlines (Artesia, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Roswell) 1963–1964
  • Continental Airlines (Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Midland/Odessa, Roswell, San Angelo, San Antonio) 1934–early 1960s – (Acapulco, Albuquerque, Austin, Cabo San Lucas, Colorado Springs, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Houston, Ixtapa, La Paz, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Mexico City, Midland/Odessa, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Tucson) early 1960s–2010
  • Delta Airlines (Albuquerque, Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Salt Lake City) 1984–1990; (Atlanta, Salt Lake City) 2018–present
  • Eastern Airlines (Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Tucson) 1980–1985
  • Frontier Airlines (Las Cruces) 1950–1953, (Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Denver, Guadalajara, Ixtapa, Mazatlán, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta) 1963–1986
  • Frontier Airlines (Albuquerque, Denver) 1994–2009; (Chicago, Denver) 2018–present
  • Hughes Airwest (proposed routes to: Houston, Phoenix, Tucson) 1979
  • Lone Star Airlines (Chihuahua, Ruidoso) 1994–1995
  • Mesa Airlines (Alamogordo, Tucson) 1986, (Ruidoso) 1990
  • New Mexico Airlines (Alamogordo, Carlsbad) 2008–2010
  • Northwest Airlines (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 2005–2006
  • Permian Airways (Carlsbad, Roswell) 1979–1980
  • Pioneer Airways (Las Cruces, Roswell) 1948–1952
  • Servicio Aereo Leo Lopez (Chihuahua) 1980s–early 1990s
  • Southwest Airlines (before 2005: Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego)
  • (after 2005–present: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio)
  • Standard Airlines (Douglas, AZ) 1929–1930
  • Trans Texas Airways/Texas International Airlines (Austin, Carlsbad, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Marfa, Midland/Odessa, Pecos, Roswell) 1949–1982
  • Trans Colorado Airlines/Continental Express (Alamogordo, Carlsbad) 1987
  • Trans World Airlines (St. Louis) 1999–2000
  • United Airlines (Albuquerque, Chicago, Denver, Houston) 1982–present
  • U S Airways (Las Vegas, Phoenix) 2007–2015
  • Western Airlines (Albuquerque, Salt Lake City) 1982–1986
  • Zia Airlines (Las Cruces) 1972–1978


El Paso International Airport covers 6,670 acres (2,699 ha) and has three runways:[1]

  • Runway 4/22: 12,020 ft × 150 ft (3,664 m × 46 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 8R/26L: 9,025 ft × 150 ft (2,751 m × 46 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 8L/26R: 5,493 ft × 75 ft (1,674 m × 23 m), Surface: Asphalt

Main terminal

The terminal is a pier-satellite layout. It has a central entrance and the gates branch out east to west on the two concourses. The airport has East and West Concourses. Gates A1–A4 are located on the West Concourse and Gates B1–B11 is located on the East Concourse. The airport has a total of 15 gates. There is also a lower and upper level. The gates are located on the upper level and the ticketing, baggage claim, rental car, and main entrance are located on the lower level of the terminal. The meeter/greeter area is located on the lower level just behind the escalators that lead to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint leading to the gates. Major terminal renovations have been made over the past several years, designed and managed by the local architectural firm MNK Architects.

The airport access road is Convair Road. Convair Road splits into four lanes with the left two lanes reserved for commercial vehicles and the right two lanes utilized for pickup and drop-off of passengers. In between the split road there is a waiting area where passengers can wait for commercial vehicles to arrive.

Gates: Generally, these gates are used for the following airlines. Gates A1–A3: American Airlines and American Eagle. Gate B1: Delta Air Lines. Gates B3–B7: Southwest Airlines Gates B8 and B9:United Express. Gate B10: Allegiant. Frontier: B11

Food court: The food court is located between gates B6 and B11. It is currently occupied with Carlos and Mickey's Mexican Express, Pizza Hut Express, Quizno's and Starbucks.

Airlines and destinations

El Paso International Airport has 15 gates on 2 concourses: Concourse A has gates A1–A4 and Concourse B has gates B1–B11.


Allegiant Air Las Vegas, San Diego
Seasonal: Orlando/Sanford
American Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Delta Connection Salt Lake City (begins October 1, 2018)[8]
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare,[9] Denver
Southwest Airlines Austin, Dallas–Love, Denver (begins October 7, 2018), Houston–Hobby, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, San Antonio, San Diego
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental
United Express Chicago–O'Hare,[10] Denver, Houston–Intercontinental


DHL Aviation Cincinnati
FedEx Express Austin, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Memphis, San Antonio
GTA Air Dallas–Addison
UPS Airlines Albuquerque, Lubbock, Ontario, San Antonio


Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from ELP
(June 2017 – May 2018)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 273,000 American
2 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 234,000 American, Southwest
3 Dallas–Love, Texas 137,000 Southwest
4 Los Angeles, California 113,000 American, Southwest
5 Houston–Hobby, Texas 107,000 Southwest
6 Atlanta, Georgia 106,000 Delta
7 Las Vegas, Nevada 91,000 Allegiant, Southwest
8 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 91,000 United
9 Austin, Texas 76,000 Southwest
10 Denver, Colorado 69,000 Frontier, Southwest, United

Accidents and incidents

  • On July 20, 1982, Douglas C-47D N102BL of Pronto Aviation Services was damaged beyond repair in a crash landing near El Paso International Airport following an engine failure shortly after take-off. The aircraft was on a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight to Tucson International Airport in Arizona when the engine failed and the decision was made to return to El Paso. A single engine go-around was attempted following an unsafe landing gear warning.[12]
  • On February 19, 1988, Don McCoy, a private pilot, the owner of El Paso Sand and Gravel, took off in a newly acquired Rockwell Aero Commander 680 in a snowstorm (an aircraft he was not properly rated to fly), and attempted to land again after encountering mechanical trouble in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The aircraft crashed, killing the owner and two acquaintances. Some later attempted to attribute the accident to US Senator Phil Gramm, as it was alleged that McCoy planned to testify against Senator Gramm's shakedown of campaign contributions made by the El Paso Small Business Administration office.[13][14]
  • On January 16, 2006, a mechanic employed by a contractor of Continental Airlines was killed when he was sucked into the right engine of a Boeing 737–524 while investigating an oil leak. The aircraft was preparing to depart as Continental Airlines Flight 1515 to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.[15][16][17]
  • In April 2015, a Southwest Airlines jet was directed by the tower at ELP to land on a closed runway under construction. The aircraft landed safely but missed construction equipment by "mere feet".[18]

See also


  1. 1 2 FAA Airport Master Record for ELP (Form 5010 PDF)
  2. "El Paso International Airport Operating Statistics". El Paso International Airport. January 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  3. "El Paso International Airport Operating Statistics for 2014". El Paso International Airport. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Texas - El Paso area". airfields-freeman.com.
  5. McClintock, Wayne (April 2, 1971). "Airport Passenger Numbers 3 Times E.P. Population". El Paso Herald-Post. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  6. Diaz, Kandice N. (September 22, 2008). "Hilles and Garland: Modern Architecture for the Borderland". The UTEP Prospector. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  7. "Standard Air Lines". www.timetableimages.com.
  8. http://kutv.com/news/local/delta-airlines-announces-el-paso-texas-connection-with-new-nonstop-service-to-slc
  9. "Frontier Airlines adding new nonstop flights from El Paso to Chicago". October 4, 2017.
  10. "United continues domestic routes expansion in 2018". Routes Online. November 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  11. "El Paso, TX: El Paso International (ELP)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  12. "N102BL Accident report". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
  13. "Probable cause briefing, NTSB Identification: FTW88FA066". NTSB. 1990-01-24. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
  14. "Phil Gramm". Famoustexans.com. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  15. "CNN.com – Mechanic sucked into jet engine – Jan 16, 2006". CNN.
  16. "NTSB Report on Flight DFW06FA056". Ntsb.gov. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  17. "Incident document". R721.livejournal.com. May 15, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  18. Genevieve Curtis (April 17, 2015). "Plane lands on runway closed for construction at El Paso International Airport". KFOX-TV.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

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