Tucson International Airport

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Tucson International Airport
File:Tucson International Airport logo.svg
Tucson Airport from the sky, July 2013.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner City of Tucson
Operator Tucson Airport Authority
Serves Tucson, Arizona
Elevation AMSL 2,643 ft / 806 m
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Website www.flytucson.com
FAA airport diagram (June 2009)
FAA airport diagram (June 2009)
TUS is located in Arizona
Location of airport in Arizona
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11L/29R 10,996 3,352 Asphalt
11R/29L 8,408 2,563 Asphalt
3/21 7,000 2,134 Asphalt
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
H2 60 18 Asphalt
H3 60 18 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Aircraft operations(July YTD) 160,670
Daily Departing Flights 55
Passengers (July YTD) 2,760,660
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]
Statistics: Tucson Airport Authority[2]

Tucson International Airport (IATA: TUSICAO: KTUSFAA LID: TUS) is a public joint civil-military airport owned by the City of Tucson 8 mi south of downtown Tucson, in Pima County, Arizona.[1] It is the second busiest airport in Arizona, after Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 categorized it as a primary commercial service airport since it has over 10,000 passenger boardings per year.[3] Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 1,779,679 enplanements in 2011, a decrease from 1,844,228 in 2010.[4]

Tucson International is operated on a long-term lease by the Tucson Airport Authority, which also operates Ryan Airfield, a general aviation airport. Tucson International Airport is not a hub or focus city for any airline. Public transportation to the airport is Sun Tran bus routes No. 6 and No. 11.


In 1919 Tucson opened the first municipally owned airport in the United States. In 1928 commercial flights began with Standard Airlines (later American Airlines); regular airmail service began in 1930. The 1936 airport directory shows Tucson Municipal at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. "just north of the railroad" (since removed) referring to the site that was then being used as the city's airport southeast of the intersection of S. Park Ave. and E. 36th St.

During World War II the airfield was used by the United States Army Air Forces Air Technical Service Command. A contract flying school was operated by the USAAF West Coast Training Center from July 25, 1942 until September 1944.

In 1948 the Tucson Airport Authority was created as a non-profit corporation to operate the airport and oversee policy decisions. The nine member board is elected by a group of up to 115 volunteer residents from Pima County Arizona. The airport was moved to its current location south of Valencia Road and operated on the west ramp out of three hangars vacated by World War II military manufacturing companies. A new control tower was constructed in 1958 to replace the original WWII wooden framed version.

The Tucson Airport Authority was also involved in bringing the Hughes Missile Plant (now Raytheon) to Tucson. In fact, in 1951, according to author David Leighton, it was the TAA that sold the land to the Hughes Aircraft Co., for construction of the plant. [5]

In April 1957 airlines scheduled 21 departures a day: 15 American, 4 TWA and 2 Frontier. The first jet flights were operated by American Airlines with Boeing 707 and Boeing 720B jetliners around September 1960. During the mid and late 1970s, American was flying wide body McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jets nonstop to Dallas/Ft. Worth [6] and also to Chicago via an intermediate stop in Phoenix.[7] By the late 1980s, American was operating Boeing 767-200 wide body jetliners from the airport with nonstop service to Dallas/Ft. Worth.[8] The DC-10 and 767 were the largest jetliners ever to serve Tucson with scheduled passenger flights.

On November 15, 1963 a new terminal designed by Terry Atkinson opened with an international inspection station. The Tucson International Airport[9][10] name was legitimate: Aeronaves de Mexico had begun Douglas DC-6 propliner service to Hermosillo and beyond in 1961. By the mid 1970s, successor airline Aeromexico was continuing to serve Tucson with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jet flights nonstop to Hermosillo with direct, no change of plane service to Ciudad Obregon, Culiacan, Guadalajara and Mexico City.[11] Bonanza Air Lines began DC-9 jet service to Mexico as well during the late 1960s with flights to Mazatlan, La Paz and Puerto Vallarta,[12] and successor airlines Air West and Hughes Airwest also operated DC-9 jet flights from Tucson to Mexico with their service being extended to Guadalajara as well as continuing to provide flights to Mazatlan, La Paz and Puerto Vallarta.[13][14] The terminal underwent minor remodeling during the 1960s and 1970s, and its interior was featured in the 1974 film Death Wish starring Charles Bronson.

From the early 1970s to the early 1980s, Cochise Airlines was based in Tucson. This commuter airline operated Cessna 402 and Convair 440 propliners as well as de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and Swearingen Metroliner turboprops during its existence. Cochise flew scheduled passenger service to a number of destinations in Arizona and southern California.

A remodeling in 1985 doubled the size of the terminal from 150,000 to 300,000 sq ft and rebuilt the concourse into separate, two-level structures with jet bridges.[15]

A Concourse Renovation Project was finished in 2005 – the last phase of a remodeling begun in 2000 that added 82,000 sq ft (7,600 m2) to ticketing and baggage claim designed by HNTB.[16] On March 19, 2008, the previous East and West concourses and gates were renumbered with the East Concourse becoming Concourse A: Gates A1 – A9, and the West Concourse becoming Concourse B: Gates B1 – B11.

In January 2014, the Tucson Airport Authority board approved a no-cost, 20-year property lease with the Federal Aviation Administration for property on which to build a new federally-funded control tower to replace the 1950s vintage tower currently in use. Construction of the tower is expected to commence in July 2014. The new tower will be located on the south side of the airport, near Aero Park Blvd.

Military use

Tucson International Airport hosts Tucson Air National Guard Base, a 92-acre (37 ha) complex on the northwest corner of the airport that is home to the 162d Fighter Wing (162 FW), an Air Education and Training Command (AETC)-gained unit of the Arizona Air National Guard. The largest Air National Guard fighter unit in the United States, the 162 FW operates over 70 F-16C/D/E/F aircraft in three operational fighter squadrons. The wing provides training on the F-16 Fighting Falcon, augmenting the active Air Force's 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW) at Luke AFB, Arizona as a Formal Training Unit (FTU) for training Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard and NATO/Allied/Coalition F-16 pilots.

The wing also hosts the Air National Guard / Air Force Reserve Command (ANG AFRC) Command Test Center (AATC) as a tenant unit, which conducts operational testing on behalf of the Air Reserve Component. The 162 FW also hosts "Snowbird" operations during the winter months for Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard F-16 and A-10 units from northern tier bases in the continental United States, as well as Canadian Forces and Royal Air Force flying units.[17][18]

During its history at TUS, the 162nd has operated the F-86 Sabre, F-100 Super Sabre, F-102 Delta Dagger, A-7 Corsair II and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Not counting students or transient flight crews, the installation employs over 1,700 personnel, over 1,100 of whom are full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and Air Reserve Technician (ART) personnel, and the remainder traditional part-time Air National Guardsmen. Although an AETC organization, the 162nd also maintains an F-16 Alert Detachment for USNORTHCOM / NORAD and AFNORTH at nearby Davis-Monthan AFB in support of Operation Noble Eagle.


File:TUS-Baggage Claim.JPG
Baggage Claim area; Belt 5 is used by Southwest Airlines exclusively.
File:TUS-Rental Car Center.JPG
Rental Car Complex (north to south end)

The airport covers 7,938 acres (3,212 ha) at an elevation of 2,643 feet (806 m) above sea level. It has three asphalt runways and helipads:[1]

  • Runway 11L/29R: 10,996 by 150 feet (3,352 x 46 m), with ILS
  • Runway 11R/29L: 8,408 by 75 feet (2,563 x 23 m)
  • Runway 3/21: 7,000 by 150 feet (2,134 x 46 m)
  • Helipad H1: 100 by 100 feet (30 x 30 m)
  • Helipad H2: 60 by 60 feet (18 x 18 m)
  • Helipad H3: 60 by 60 feet (18 x 18 m)

Airlines usually use Runway 11L. In occasional trade winds, commercial airliners use Runway 29R, and even rarer, with south winds, Runway 21. Runway 11R-29L is too narrow for most commercial jet aircraft, but they can use Runway 3.

In the year ending April 30, 2012 the airport had 142,302 operations, average 389 per day: 47% general aviation, 25% airline, 15% air taxi, and 12% military. 303 aircraft were then based at the airport: 55% single-engine, 24% military, 10% multi-engine, 7% helicopter, and 4% jet.[1]


Tucson International Airport's terminal has two concourses: Concourse A has nine gates, A1 through A9, and Concourse B has eleven gates, B1 through B11. Currently, Tucson International Airport offers daily nonstop airline service to 15 destinations across the U.S.[19] Additionally, there are one-stop connections to more than 310 destinations around the world.

Both concourses inside the terminal offer food, beverage, and shopping as well as free wireless internet and charging stations.[20]

TIA versus TUS

There has been a propensity in local Tucson / Pima County area news media outlets (to include their weather reporting services) and other business and governmental entities in the Tucson metropolitan area outside of the professional aviation community to refer to the airport as "TIA" versus the airport's actual airport code of "TUS" in either reporting or reference. A similar situation occurs in the Tampa, Florida metropolitan area by that region's news media and other business and governmental entities with respect to their characterization Tampa International Airport (TPA). The airport code TIA is assigned to Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza[21] in Albania.

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma B
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Seasonal: Portland (OR) B
American Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth A
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Phoenix A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Los Angeles, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Seattle/Tacoma
Southwest Airlines Chicago–Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego
Seasonal: Houston–Hobby
United Airlines Denver B
United Express Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare


Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from TUS (Oct 2014 – Sep 2015)[22]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 273,000 American
2 Phoenix, Arizona 206,000 US Airways
3 Los Angeles, California 177,000 American,Southwest, United
4 Denver, Colorado 157,000 Southwest, United
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 136,000 Southwest
6 Atlanta, Georgia 99,000 Delta
7 San Diego, California 86,000 Southwest
8 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 77,000 American, United
9 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 72,000 United
10 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 68,000 Southwest

Cargo airlines

There are two air freight facilities located east of the Main Terminal, off Airport Drive. Air carriers providing air freight include:

Accidents and incidents

  • On December 30, 1989, an America West Boeing 737-204 (Flight 450, Registration N198AW) was en route to the Tucson International Airport when a fire in the wheel well burned through hydraulic cabling. During landing braking was ineffective and the aircraft overran the end of the runway. After colliding with a concrete structure the plane came to a stop. Aircraft was written off.[23][24]
  • On July 30, 1982, a Douglas C-47D (Registration 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 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.[25]
  • On March 13, 1990, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727-227 (Registration N271AF) operating Phoenix-Tucson, struck and killed a pedestrian during the takeoff roll at Phoenix International Airport. The man had apparently wandered away from a nearby mental hospital. How he made it onto runway 26L was not determined (Runway 26L is now 25R).[26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 FAA Airport Master Record for TUS (Form 5010 PDF)
  2. Tucson Airport Authority. Effective September 4, 2014.
  3. "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). faa.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Enplanements for CY 2011" (PDF, 1.7 MB). faa.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. David Leighton, The History of the Hughes Missile Plant In Tucson, 1947-1960, Private Publication, 2015 (Pg.4)
  6. http://www.departedflights.com, Dec. 1, 1974 American Airlines system timetable
  7. http://www.departedflights.com, Jan. 20, 1979 American Airlines system timetable
  8. http://www.departedflights.com, Dec. 15, 1989 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Tucson flight schedules
  9. "Nov. 16: Today in Arizona History". Arizona Daily Star. November 16, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Architecture of the Modern Movement in Tucson, Arizona 1945–1975
  11. Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Tucson flight schedules
  12. http://www.timetableimages.com, April 28, 1968 Bonanza Air Lines system timetable
  13. http://www.timetableimages.com, July 1, 1968 Air West system timetable
  14. http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1972 Hughes Airwest system timetable
  15. "History of Tucson Airport Authority" (PDF). Tucson Airport Authority. 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. HNTB – Tucson Airport Expansion
  17. ANG AFRC Command Test Center
  18. 162nd Fighter Wing Website
  19. "Airlines and Flights". TIA.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Travel Services". TIA.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. http://www.azworldairports.com/airports/a1010tia.cfm
  22. http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=TUS&Airport_Name=Tucson,%20AZ:%20Tucson%20International&carrier=FACTS
  23. "LAX90FA061". National Transportation Safety Board. December 30, 1989.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19891230-0
  25. "FTW82DA302". National Transportation Safety Board. July 30, 1982.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "LAX90LA116". National Transportation Safety Board. March 13, 1990.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Other sources
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC

External links