Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport is the official name for the principal airport of Chile’s capital, Santiago, which acts as a main travel centre of the country offering flights around the world. Located 15 kilometres from the downtown area of the city, it is also known as Santiago International Airport and is the largest aviation centre in Chile as well as the country’s busiest airport. Local airlines like Sky Airline and LATAM use the airport as a base hub and provide most of the flights, with travel connections to global cities including Sydney, Frankfurt and Mexico City.
There are four levels of the main terminal building of the airport, each offering different facilities, including the necessary transport services like border control customs, departures and check-in areas. The ground and second floors of the building provide multiple shops, including duty-free stores, selling typical Chilean souvenirs, local jewellery, wine, music and books in over 70 outlets. There are also various restaurants, bars and cafes serving both Chilean cuisine and international food, and visitors can choose to wait in exclusive VIP lounges for extra comfort and luxury services. The airport is home to three different hotels, provides luggage storage, contains international banks, currency exchange kiosks and internet desks, and also offers conference rooms for business travellers.
Visitors can reach Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport by car within a 15-minute drive from the centre of Santiago via the Costanera Norte expressway, which is also used by taxis and shuttle services that serve different areas of the city. Regular buses travel to the subway station of Los Heroes, which has links throughout Santiago, and car rental services are also available from the airport terminal building.
Construction of the airport began in 1961 due to the rising need for a modern transport hub for the expanding city of Santiago and on completion was named after the Chilean Air Force founder, Arturo Merino Benitez. In 1994, the terminal building was expanded to provide more space and extra facilities and a second runway was also added in 2005. The airport faced damage from the Chilean earthquake of 2010, although it continued to function within a week of the disaster.