El Dorado, Bogota International Airport transformation | SITA

El Dorado, Bogotá International Airport transformation

The solution proposed by SITA was based on an innovative design and a creative approach centered around the passenger experience that would differentiate El Dorado from other airports in the region.

Álvaro González , CEO, OPAIN
19 June 2018

The client

El Dorado (BOG), Bogotá International Airport, is Latin America’s largest and most modern air transit facility, and third busiest. Since opening, in 1959, the airport has undergone numerous renovations and expansions. In 2017, it served 31 million passengers, and accounted for just under half of the country’s air traffic.

The airport is managed by Operadora Aeroportuaria Internacional (OPAIN), a consortium led by Group Argos and Odinsa with other local construction firms, in conjunction with the Swiss Airport Flughafen Zürich AG. OPAIN is responsible for the management, modernization, commercial development, expansion, operation and maintenance of El Dorado International Airport.

A large-scale, complex specification to transform El Dorado International Airport

  • CUTE – 250 integrated solutions – SITA Maestro®DCS Local
  • CUSS – 40 integrated solutions – SITA MaestroDCS Local
  • Public Address Systems – 2,450 speakers, 46 paging stations
  • Flight Information Display Systems (FIDSs) – 400 displays
  • Structured Cabling System – 8,300 data ports
  • 28 technical rooms connected to 2 data centers
  • 130 access points
  • Wireless DNE (Wi-Fi)
  • IP Telephony
  • Master Clock (MCS)
  • Airport Operational Database (AODB) interfaces developed by SITA
  • CCTV and fire alarm systems and Access Control System (delivered by Johnson Controls)


The challenge

By the early 2000s, El Dorado International Airport was starting to show its age: it was suffering from long queues, limited space and passenger access to the terminal building, inadequate departure and VIP lounges, and an outdated public address system – all of which were directly impacting the passenger experience.

OPAIN was tasked with constructing a new international terminal and modernizing the existing international terminal, featuring 16 gates, 144 check-in counters and some 60,000 parking spaces. Traditionally, the technology required for an airport terminal construction project is purchased piecemeal and installed by multiple independent contractors, resulting in silos. OPAIN therefore sought a single, proven partner to bring together all the required technology elements and oversee the airport’s wholesale transformation, working in tandem with the building controls provider.

As OPAIN’s CEO, Álvaro González, explains, “What made this project challenging was that it would need to be completed in stages, with the work carried out amid the airport’s continued daily operations. That would require careful co-ordination of myriad contractors, processes, procedures, timelines and priorities, to minimize disruption to operations and passengers while all the construction, installation and upgrades were being carried out.”

Having previously implemented SITA’s Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) and Common Use Self-Service (CUSS) check-in solutions, OPAIN was already familiar with SITA, its decades of experience in airport terminal construction environments, and its presence in Colombia since 1961. “The solution proposed by SITA was based on an innovative design and a creative approach centered around the passenger experience that would differentiate El Dorado from other airports in the region,” recalls González. SITA was able to proactively identify and address the needs of all key stakeholders for this complex project, and was engaged by OPAIN as the natural choice to partner with in El Dorado’s technological transformation.

The solution proposed by SITA was based on an innovative design and a creative approach centered around the passenger experience that would differentiate El Dorado from other airports in the region.

Álvaro González, CEO, OPAIN


Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President for Latin America, observes, “No other public building has a greater reliance on technology than the modern airport, which introduces considerable complexity. That’s why we developed our Airport Master System Integration (MSI) solution – to help airport operators minimize risk and delays in airport construction and quickly realize their goal to create a fully-functioning airport with the minimum of fuss.”

The solution

  • SITATEX® IP – the air transport industry’s leading operational mail platform, which generates and receives Type B messages, the de facto messaging standard used for reservations, flight status messages, weather information and advance passenger information. 
  • BagMessage – a fully-managed, secure, global solution which interfaces between airline departure control systems and airline and airport baggage systems, to ensure reliable, highly-available means of message delivery.
  • AirportHub™ – an airport-wide shared connectivity platform which simplifies airport IT infrastructure and offers reliable, flexible and cost-effective communication services to airlines, ground handlers and maintenance providers.
  • AirportConnect® Open (CUTE) – to provide the standard communications between all the peripherals required for passenger processing, such as printers, passport readers, boarding card readers and bag tag printers, and support self-boarding gates and self-bag drop.
  • AirportConnect® Kiosk (CUSS) – to deliver self-service processes such as booking, changing a reservation and check-in on a kiosk, designed to IATA’s CUSS specifications.
  • Maestro®DCS Local – an IATA-compliant automated departure control system that enables the airport, airlines and ground handlers to perform check-in and boarding processes.
  • AirportVision® – a dynamic, media-rich flight information display system to support the seamless flow of passengers through the airport.
  • BagManager – providing industry-leading functionality for loading, reconciling, tracking, tracing and managing baggage operations in real-time – increasingly critical as the industry moves to adopt IATA Resolution 753 in 2018.
  • AirportResource Manager – a flexible resource management system for fixed airport resources, such as departure gates, baggage carousels and check-in desks, as well as mobile resources for ground handling. 

SITA’s bespoke supplier co-ordination methodology was designed to mitigate critical path slippage caused by prior dependency defects. Drawing on SITA’s extensive experience as a systems integrator for airports as diverse as Dublin (Ireland), Düsseldorf (Germany), Cancún (Mexico), Baku (Azerbaijan) and São Paulo (Brazil), the entire project was delivered within budget and on schedule. “The secret behind the success of El Dorado, reveals Quadros, was due to our expertise in construction and complex integrated airport programs, plus our strong relationship with the various stakeholders, meant we could ensure all elements of the RFP were delivered.”

The SITA Airport MSI solution supports operations and security throughout the new airport terminal, which opened in 2012. The high-performance hardware and systems ensure OPAIN can deliver superior services to airport passengers, users and tenants while improving comfort, safety and information flow throughout the airport.

Our expertise in construction and complex integrated airport programs, plus our strong relationship, meant we could ensure all elements of the RFP were delivered.

Elbson Quadros, Vice President Latin America, SITA


As Álvaro González attests, “Thanks to the trusted, long-standing relationship between SITA, Bogotá El Dorado Airport and OPAIN, this project was able to advance smoothly. SITA completed the first phase in a record three months, and the team’s dedication gave us great confidence throughout. SITA has delivered a comprehensive, integrated solution that has transformed the airport’s IT systems and will scale in line with growing demand,” he adds.

SITA provides round-the-clock onsite support to El Dorado International Airport via its Centre of Excellence, which includes a Site Administrator, Customer Service Manager and Field Engineers. Troubleshooting, investigation of incidents and problem escalation are all provided by a skilled technical team; this proximity enables a mean time to repair of just 18.7 minutes for services such as CUTE, ensuring business continuity for OPAIN and the airport itself. 

The results

El Dorado AirportEl Dorado’s Terminal 1 is today one of the most advanced terminals in the region. By the end of 2017, the expanded facility boasted capacity for 40 million passengers, offering over 100 retail spaces, duty free zones and new VIP rooms, and connecting Bogotá with more than 70 domestic and international destinations. Terminal 2 operates 18 flights to domestic destinations, with passengers able to take advantage of over 50 retail spaces. Both terminals provide passengers with the convenience of fast, secure and free connection to unlimited Wi-Fi.

As well as transforming the passenger experience at El Dorado International Airport, OPAIN had set out to increase commercial income, improve operational productivity and improve ROI on its infrastructure investment. “The combination of SITA’s system integration and responsive onsite technical support has delivered consistently excellent system stability, security, reliability and back-up availability,” says Álvaro González.

In 2016 and 2017, El Dorado was named the best airport in South America by the World Airport Awards, qualified as one of the Top 50 airports in the world, and received four-star certification by Skytrax.  OPAIN is now looking to embrace a holistic approach to deploying a “seamless travel” concept, with smart security implementation and a fast-track system design in the project pipeline. As OPAIN’s long-standing technology partner, SITA is looking forward to being instrumental in realizing this vision.

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