Cusco city is a sea of red tile roofs nestled in a protective bowl of mountains. At least this is the first impression that one gets from the air minutes before the plane touches on firm land at Cusco Airport. Discover
The Cusco airport is 10, 900 ft. high, the second highest after the 12, 500 Peru’s Inca Manco Capac international airport in Juliaca Puno. It is located only four kilometers from downtown Cusco with an approximate journey time of only 20 minutes. By the way, this is the closest airport to the Machu Picchu world heritage site. The fact that this airport is in the middle of a city causes a limited flight schedule, plus the planes take off and touch down only from the east.
Cusco airport news:
- Lima, December 16th, 2022. Latam informs that according to the disposition of the Cusco airport operator (CORPAC), will resume its operation to and from Cusco, from 12:00 p.m. starting today, Friday, December 16.
- On December 13th, 2022, the Peruvian Corporation of Airports and Commercial Aviation CORPAC S.A. announce the temporary closure of the Cusco Airport, after protesters violently get inside the airport infrastructure and made holes in the perimeter fence of the airport.
Things to Know
- The airport is located 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the Main Square of Cusco City. The journey time is 20 minutes approximately by taxi.
- Cusco airport is located in the city, surrounded by several neighborhoods.
- It measures around 3.4 km in length, this is the number one and only runway. There is an airport control tower and wind direction indicator as well as DME radio telemetry equipment and locator.
- Landing and taking off in Cusco is spectacular but not for the faint-hearted as it is ranked one of the 20 highest airports in the world.
- Flights in and out of Cusco are constantly delayed because cloud covers or bad weather make landing on the perilous runway almost impossible.
- The airport in Cusco is basically a nice-weather-only airport. If the cloud cover is less than 3,800 feet above the airport, planes cannot land.
- When the winds are blowing strong and the sky gets stormy, unfortunately, you are about to miss your next flight to Lima. On the contrary, if flying from Lima to Cusco, passengers will be taken to the nearest airport in Arequipa. If the weather persists badly, the plane will get back to Lima. (most airliners are limited to 10 -15 mph tailwinds on take-off).
- The Name Alejandro Valasco honors the young Peruvian pilot who flew over the Andes mountain from Lima to Cusco in 1925 without imagining that only a week later he would pass in a plane crash in Puno, southern region.
how to get to and from the airport in Cusco?
The most popular mode of transportation for people from and to Cusco Airport is taking small taxis cars. Just outside the arrivals hall, you can see taxi drivers offering their service. Almost all of them are from an association of drivers who work at the airport; therefore, they are authorized English speakers and everyone is uniformed with a card hung on their neck.
One quick tip for you is that by following the crowds until the last airport balustrade, you get the chance to hire drivers who just left passengers and have to leave right then. They may charge you a decent fare to any part of the city. As no taxi in Cusco is metered, the same for the taxi associates, though they might not speak English other than Spanish or span-English in the end.
Always agree on a price before getting in, make the deal clear, and if possible do sign language. The price of a taxi from Cusco Airport to the historic center of Cusco is around 15 soles (US$ 5.00), if they demand more at first which is kind of custom then you have the right to haggle over the price and make the final deal. Taxi drivers are required to pay a 2 Soles parking fee when leaving Cusco Airport and often ask for this from the passenger in addition to the pre-agreed fare. Be firm and inform them this was not the agreement if it wasn`t.
Third and last option is to head towards the main Avenida Velasco Astete Outside the front of the Airport building, walking along a footpath by the car park wall. This is only if you had planned to avoid taxis inside the airport at any cost. Getting outside is not always easy. Finding a taxi is not easy due to the lack of space at the avenue and combis are running, yet the police are directing unauthorized taxis from the Airport gates.
When leaving your hotel for the airport, you have the choice of whether you want the reception to call a reliable taxi or you just go out and stop a taxi and say “Aeropuerto por favor”. The driver most surely will say 10, 12, 15 soles. The fare is slightly higher if arranged through the hotel. So you arrange the price and take the taxi to the airport, and thank the driver without leaving anything in the car. If you are taking a taxi, double check you are not leaving your charger, wallet, or money changes.
It is well known that outside in cities around the world are electric shuttle buses, and mechanic airport buses but for Cusco airport there is not even a regular airport bus as it is in Lima, meaning that Cusco Airport is not so well served. There is no bus service strictly between Cusco Airport and the city center. Instead, Only the privately owned minibusses known as Combis run very frequently, from one after the other to 15 minutes, because they have no fixed schedules.
Long story short, it is not advisable to take these combis. There is so limited seating, too small for tall people and yet they don’t have a trunk for large pieces of luggage and are often full. After all, this is not for tourism but it is a local combi service. (you may want to experience the local combi ride, do this if you want, once in the city, mind you know very well the local currency and stay aware of pickpockets).
Cusco Airport Facilities
Cusco airport is small, with minimal amenities and services, now operating at maximum capacity after the Pandemic situation.
- WiFi: There is no airport WiFi and access to the restaurant WiFi is only available upon making a purchase.
- Storage Lockers: There are no passenger storage facilities at Cusco Airport.
- Showers: There are no shower facilities at Cusco Airport.
Tip for Cusco Airport: On the grounds of the airport, in the small area for car parking, a number of shops and eateries are all located directly in front of the main door of the terminal building. They sell a range of sweets, biscuits, drinks, and even freshly made sandwiches at very reasonable prices and far cheaper than anything within the airport building.
NOTE: The airport is open 04:00 AM – 09:00 PM. It is not possible to overnight inside the airport halls or departure lounges and corridors. If you are having by any chance a layover stay in Cusco Airport, leave the airport, and in front of the main airport entrance, you will find layover hotels that rate hourly.
Landside, The public area.
On the first floor, there are 20 check-in desks among all airplanes with very limited space. There are no seating areas and sometimes this hall is overfull by strangers from around the world and of course Peruvians.
- Skycaps: a select group of skycaps or porters who carry heavy luggage on their trolleys at the arrival hall and departure hall. (They expect some tips)
- Health center: There is a space for medical assistance.
- Automatic Check-In machines: LAN Airlines set up a bank of self-service kiosk desks for generating Boarding passes.
- Money Exchange: On the ground floor is a small money exchange booth. Here you can exchange Euros, Sterling, and US Dollars. Exchange rates are not as good as you might find in the center of Cusco, but this is an airport after all. Note that ripped or even slightly damaged foreign currency will not be accepted.
- Club Lounge: On the first floor to the left of the check-in desks there is a club lounge. The lounge offers comfortable seating, free WiFi connection, flight information monitor, complimentary drinks, and a small range of snacks. This lounge does not have any sleeping facilities. This lounge is located in the public area of the terminal.
- ATMs / Cash Machines: All of Peru’s major banks have ATM machines at the airport (ground floor) and accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and all other major credit/debit cards.
- Tourist Information: On the lower level tucked away at the rear of the airport there is a small tourist information booth. Operated by PromPeru, the official Peruvian Tourist Board, the staff can offer tourist information about, not only Cusco but all other destinations in Peru. Here you can also log complaints about hotels, airlines, tour companies, and guides. Open from 6 am – 5 pm.
- Lost & found cabinet: If you by any chance lost any belonging while traveling to Cusco, see the men who work there and ask for help. They are by the medical assistance cabin in the public area.
For the number of passengers waiting in the airport, the seating area is very limited and not comfortable enough.
- Restaurant: There is a medium-sized restaurant that offers everything from tea and coffee to burgers or full Peruvian dishes like Aji de Gallina. Prices are fair, and the food is reasonably tasty.
- Snack Bars: Two small snack bars can be found on the second floor of the airport. They have limited selections of snacks and drinks, and prices are relatively expensive.
- Souvenir Shops: For last-minute chocolate purchases of different flavors from salty to sweet. Pisco ramblers and pictures of interesting sites of Peru. It is recommended to do souvenir shopping in the markets of the city rather than in the airport due to the price difference.
- Masseuse: There is a tiny open massage area with two chairs that offer neck and shoulder massages from 10 mins to 30 mins.
- Internet Café: A small internet café offers internet access, Skype, printing & scanning facilities, and international & local calls. The internet is 5 Soles (US$1.70) per hour and the café is open 7 days a week from 7 am – 4 pm
- Book Store: Just to the left of the security checks is a small bookstore, for book lovers. Also, there is a possibility of buying books in SBS and Genesis bookstores in central Cusco, located at Avenida del Sol and Santa Catalina street.
- Elevators and electric stairs are functional almost all the time.
- Wheelchairs have to be requested by the airport staff.