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Tijuana International Airport

Documenting Construction through Aerial Photography

Posted on March 22, 2023

Tijuana International Airport (IATA code: TIJ) is the main international airport serving Tijuana and the surrounding areas of Baja California and San Diego. It is one of the busiest airports in Mexico, serving more than 10 million passengers each year. Construction at TIJ, officially General Abelardo L Rodriguez International Airport, is part of a larger modernization trend that is happening at many large international airports, as larger planes and more passengers require additional terminals and parking areas to be constructed and the expansion of existing runways and taxiways. Through aerial photographs it's possible to get a bird's eye view of the airport’s construction process and see exactly how it has unfolded over time.

History and Development at TIJ Airport

Initially opened in 1951 as the "Aeropuerto Federal de Tijuana" to replace Tijuana's former airport, TIJ has gone through many renovations over the years to keep up with the growing air travel demand and the increased tourism to and from Northern Mexico. Located just south of the US-Mexico border, Tijuana International Airport is just one nautical mile south of Brown Field, a general aviation airport in San Diego, California. While the two airports are similar in runway size and orientation, they perform very different roles. Tijuana International Airport's commercial operations have required it to constantly innovate and modernize to meet the demands from increased passenger traffic, while Brown Field hasn't had the need for massive construction projects, as it is solely a general aviation airport with no commercial flights.

An aerial image of Tijuana International Airport, located just minutes away from the US-Mexico border, showcasing its long and well-maintained runway and main terminal buildings, with purple Cross Border Xpress air bridge crossing the international border.

Tijuana Airport Development Plans

Currently managed by Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP), which operates 11 airports throughout Mexico and Latin America, Tijuana Airport has undergone several major renovations over the years, including the construction of new terminal buildings, the expansion of its runways, and even an international bridge connecting the airport to a separate check-in and processing building on the U.S. side of the border. In order to accommodate larger aircraft and the accompanying additional passengers, GAP plans on further development, including increasing parking spaces, adding more retail outlets and restaurants throughout both terminals, and adding additional customer service staff. In addition, plans are in place to maximize the increased airport capacity and create additional cargo routes that will connect with other nearby countries like Guatemala and El Salvador.

A close-up aerial image of the steel construction of the New Processing Building at TIJ Airport, revealing an under-the-hood view, with towering beams, crisscrossing girders, and a variety of different levels.

Nuevo Edificio Procesador

Completed in 2022, the Nuevo Edificio Procesador (New Processing Building) at Tijuana International Airport is a new airport terminal building designed to make the travel experience easier and more efficient for all passengers with additional check-in counters, security lanes, immigration facilities, and boarding gates. The facility will streamline travel for international flights from Asia and South America, as well as for travelers from the U.S. using the Cross Border Xpress.

Cross Border Xpress (CBX)

The Cross Border Xpress bridge is an international bridge located at Tijuana Airport in Mexico. It connects TIJ Airport directly to San Diego, California, providing travelers with a convenient way to get from one side of the border to the other quickly and easily. The CBX bridge is the first of its kind between the United States and Mexico, allowing passengers to cross between the U.S. and Mexico without having to go through additional immigration and customs, as security and customs is done only once at the offices in San Diego.

An aerial view of the Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport in Mexico offers a glimpse of this unique bridge-like structure, which allows travelers to cross the U.S.-Mexico border quickly and conveniently via an airside pedestrian skywalk suspended high above the international border.

Air Services at TIJ

Tijuana Airport offers non-stop service to domestic destinations throughout Mexico such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Cancun; as well as connecting flights throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The airport also provides cargo services with regular flights between the United States and Latin America. Tijuana Airport is only 15 miles away from Downtown San Diego—one of America’s biggest cities— and provides a convenient alternative airport for San Diegoans.

An aerial view of Tijuana Airport reveals an array of airplanes parked at their gates, awaiting passengers to begin their travel both domestically and internationally.

Aerial Photography to Document TIJ Construction

Using aerial photography to document a large-scale construction project, like the one at Tijuana International Airport, has several important benefits for airport developers. It helps provide accurate information about the current state of development so that decisions can be made quickly and are based on real-time data. Additionally, using imagery from above allows for detailed analysis without requiring anyone to physically enter a construction site or restricted areas, which could interfere with airport operations, especially at busy airports such as TIJ.

An aerial shot of the purple Cross Border Xpress sky bridge, connecting the United States to Tijuana International Airport, and the under construction Nuevo Edificio Procesador at Tijuana Airport, providing travelers with an efficient and convenient path between two countries.

With its prime location close to the U.S.-Mexico border, modern facilities, helpful customer service, ample parking options, and expansive future development plans, Tijuana airport is poised for continued success moving forward. GAPs vision will have a lasting impact for both Tijuana and San Diego area. By using aerial photography throughout its development process, the TIJ's contractors have had access to valuable information that allowed them to understand exactly how their work progressed over time, while also giving them insights into potential areas where construction improvements could be made in order to save both time and money. Looking forward to visiting TIJ soon!

A sweeping aerial view of the sprawling TIJ Airport reveals an iconic sign - Aeropuerto Internacional de Tijuana - surrounded by a bustling scene of planes at their gates, teeming with travelers and staff preparing for their next voyages.