The October 1975 edition of the magazine "Acción
Cívica" tells us that Las Mercedes International
Airport (AILM) had its beginnings in what is now known as
the old terminal. This old building can be found behind the
customs warehouses at the current air terminal.
According to Mr. Sr. Bill Sphorer, executive
of UPS Cargo in Miami and one of the aviation pioneers in
Latin America, most of the airports in teh region were built
thanks to the cooperation of the now defunct Pan American
Cívica relates that it was not ultil 1968, during
the administration of President Somoza Debayle, that the air
terminal building was inaugurated, with a ramp capable of
accommodating four Boeing 707 positions Later, in the early
1970s, the ramp was expanded to accommodate two new positions.
This terminal fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry
of War, Marine and Aviation.
The expanded terminal housed four health inspectors, eight
immigration officers and ten customs inspectors. It was fully
equipped with air conditioning, background music, loudspeakers
and modern conveyor belts for automatic baggage handling.
The new terminal building, with its pleasant and comfortable
environment, was capable of serving passengers from two an
three simultaneous flights.
To give us an idea just how important this air terminal was,
international passenger throughput at Las Mercedes International
Airport totaled 197,812 in 1972, 186,984 in 1973, and 226,200
in 1974, reflecting an annual growth of more than 20 percent.
International cargo throughput was 30.5 million
pounds in 1972, 36.6 million in 1973, and 44.8 million in
1974, for an annual increase of 25 percent. The customs office
at Las Mercedes International Airport issued 30,164 permits
1975, among the companies that regularly flew into Las Mercedes
International Airport were: Pan American, Taca, Copa, Sahsa,
Sam, Iberia and Lanica, the latter flying the flag for Nicaragua.
On the 27th of May, the expansion of the west wing of the
air terminal was inaugurated,as well as the current air cargo
customs warehouse, in an effort to meet the growing commercial
flight demand. The passenger terminal was built with a view
at maintaining domestic and international operations in the
same building and the airport management offices on the upper
levels. In 1977, the west wing was expanded, adding waiting
rooms, immigration offices and duty-free shops.
In the 1980s the airport was renamed Augusto
César Sandino International Airport. Very little improvements
were made to the airport and the buildings underwent great
deterioration. In 1996, the expansion and remodeling was resumed
with a more modern approach for arrivals and departures, as
well as the construction of 2,200 m² for lounges, stores,
VIP lounge, an elevator, an escalator and a boarding bridge.
By the end of the 1990s, the airport was simply known as Managua
International Airport. Two boarding bridges were
installed during this period.
The average flow of passengers has increased
by 10 percent over the last few years, and cargo throughput
has reached an average of 2 percent. It is estimated that
this increase will continue at more than 6 percent during
the next few years.
In an effort to improve the efficiency of
its operations, the Airport Authority has redesigned its organizational
structure. A few years ago it had 530 employees, now it has
342, which represents a significant optimization of human
resources and services. Likewise, in order to provide better
quiality services, it has initiated a
Master Plan, which includes the planned and orderly
remodeling of the Managua airport terminal and management
offices, as well as a new fire station, a terminal building
for domestic flights and the expansion of the runway.
On August 2002, President Enrique Bolaños Geyer
inaugurated Phase II of the Master Plan for the construction
of 11,000 m² to the east of the building, including the
structural reinforcement of the building with anti-seismic
features, nine bases for ceiling hangers, metal ceilings,
picture windows, automatic doors, twenty-two immigration booths
for arriving passengers, a VIP lounge, a Presidential lounge,
two carrousels capable of handling 900 pieces of baggage per
hour, duty-free shops, hotel, car rental and tourism counters,
concessions for souvenirs stands, offices for immigration
authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and
Forestry, lounges for departing passengers, a bar-restaurant,
a drugstore and a boarding bridge.
The Airport Authority plans to begin Phase III in May 2003,
which comprises the construction of 6,000 m² and
remodeling of the west end of the building to accommodate
52 baggage check-in counters, airline offices, baggage drop-off,
three boarding bridges, 400-seat boarding lounges, dury-free
shops and airline VIP lounges.
Phase IV, the last phase, is scheduled to begin in February
2004. It includes the overall remodeling of the original terminal
building and the expansion of the public waiting area to double
its size. Stores, a fast food courtyard, cafeterias, handicraft
stands, ice cream parlors, among others, will be located at
ground level. More lounges, duty-free shops and security offices
will be located on the second floor. Likewise, the building
will be reinforced with buttress walls to protect the public
in the event of an earthquake.