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Tenerife Airport Guide

The largest of Spain’s Canary Islands is Tenerife, and on this island there are two international airports. They are known as the South Airport and the North Airport, located as their names suggest to the south and north of the island. Both were previously known by different names, as the south used to be the Reina Sofia, after its inauguration by Queen Sofia of Spain, and the north airport was formerly the Los Rodeos. The official codes are TFS (for the South) and TFN (for the North), and together they handle over eleven million passengers per annum, providing very important air gateways for local and international tourists.

Tenerife North Airport was the first on the island, as plans were hastily made in the summer of 1929 to accommodate a flight from Berlin. Although there were no facilities for aircraft movements at this time, when the location was finally approved, work on the buildings and runways began, and the facilities were consistently upgraded to meet the demands of the growing passenger traffic. Tenerife North Airport’s location in the municipality of San Cristobal de la Laguna is somewhat unfortunate, as frequent conditions of fog occur, which greatly reduce visibility on the runways. This weather condition was considered as one of the main causes of what was possibly the worst accident in aviation history, in 1977. Two aircraft, one taxiing and the other preparing for take-off collided on the runway, killing 583 people.

As one of the outcomes of the accident, Tenerife South was requested at its position on the southern coastline of the island, at a place where fog conditions are rare. It is located approximately 60 km, or 37 miles from Tenerife’s capital city, Santa Cruz, about 20 km from one of the most popular holiday resorts on the island, Playa de las Américas, and in the municipality of Granadilla de Abona. The North Airport is only about 11 km, or 6.8 miles from the capital city, and is nearby La Laguna and Puerto de la Cruz, two very popular areas for visitors. Tenerife has an extensive road network, and the two largest motorways on the island connect both airports. The TF-1 runs along the eastern coastline, and provides direct access to the South Airport, while it is also connected to the TF-5 motorway, nearby Santa Cruz, which is the main access road of the North Airport. The TF-5 also continues along the northern coastline of the island.

The South Airport is busier than the North, with just over seven million passengers per year, and is considered to be the main one on the island. Tenerife South also handles the majority of international passengers, and serves a greater variety of destinations. A larger number of airline companies are present as well. Tenerife North receives just over four million passengers per year, and although international, is mainly used for inter-island traffic, and domestic air traffic to mainland Spain. Airline carriers with flights to mainland Spain include Air Europa, Spanair and Iberia. While Binter Canarias & NAYSA and Islas Airways, from Tenerife North, handle flights to many low-cost airline carriers, such as Ryanair, Germanwings, Air Berlin and Easyjet, use all seven of the Canary Islands South Airport. There are also charter operators, such as Monarch, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines. The busiest route from the North Airport is to Madrid-Barajas, with over a million passengers per year, and approximately 40 flights per day.

Although there are no railway services on the island, there is a light rail system, or tram, available between a few destinations towards the north of the island, such as Santa Cruz and La Laguna, however, neither is linked by railway of any kind. The majority of passengers in need of public transport therefore use the bus services, which are operated by the company TITSA. This company is in charge of all the buses on the island, and provides four bus routes from the North and three bus routes from the South. Tenerife airports are connected by bus, and passengers arriving at Tenerife South can travel to the major holiday resorts in the area, to Santa Cruz and to Puerto de la Cruz as well. From Tenerife North Airport, buses take passengers to Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Puerto de la Cruz, with various stops along the way. Taxis are available from taxi ranks at both airports to any destination on the island, and a variety of car hire companies are present for car rental options.

The North and South Airports are operated and managed by the Spanish Authorities known as Aena Aeropuertos. This company is one of the world’s leading authorities, and manages a total of 47 airports and two heliports in Spain, and participates in the operation of a further 28 ones in other locations of the world. All airports of Aena are well known for being first-class facilities, and to offer efficient and well-organized services. The two airports on the island of Tenerife are well equipped to meet the needs of all passengers, including disabled passengers, with facilities such as banking and currency exchange services, VIP lounges, post offices, medical offices and lost and found offices. However, since that Tenerife South is the larger, it also provides meeting rooms for corporate travellers and a play area for children. Both locations have numerous shopping and dining opportunities.

Both Tenerife airports are ideal locations at which to start a wonderful holiday on the island, as the island is famous for its superb natural attractions, golden, as well as darker volcanic beaches, entertaining nightlife and a wide variety of zoos, aquariums, dophinariums and national parks. Tourism information is provided at both airports from offices within the arrival areas.