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Albuquerque International Sunport

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Continent: North America Country: United States Region: New Mexico

Albuquerque International Sunport/Kirtland Air Force Base
Location Albuquerque, New Mexico
Airport type Mixed-Use Commerical
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 120.3, 123.775, 351.9,
Ground 121.9, 348.6
Clearance 119.2, 259.3
Approach 124.4, 134.8, 123.9, 127.4
Departure127.4, 124.4, 123.9, 134.8
ATIS 118.0, 257.7, 1-505-856-4928

Official Spotting Locations

Terminal Observation Lounge

Terminal Observation Lounge

There is a very nice observation lounge in the terminal, located above the food court. Stairs are located on either side of the food court. However, it is past the security checkpoint so it is accessible only if you are traveling. There are several comfortable chairs, couches, and tables, and there are very nice floor to ceiling windows that provide a view of the ramp and runways.

Spirit Drive

A gravel lot near the threshold of runway 03. This runway is used less than 08/26 so movements here can be slow. However, when winds cause traffic to reverse, many departures will use runway 21 to avoid the longer taxi to runway 26, though heavier aircraft will still use the longer runway 26. Because of the distance from the runway and the fence, photographing arrivals is difficult and few departures use this runway. The cargo facilities are close and offer a few opportunities for photos. All movements on this runway can be logged however.

Girard Boulevard

A small pull-off at the South end of this cul-de-sac. Most movements on 08/26 (the main runway) can be logged but are too distant for photography. Some arrivals on 03 may be missed. On the rare occasions when runway 17 is in use this is an excellent location, although photos will need to be taken through the fence. Some early-morning shots of the apron are possible.

Other Spotting Locations

FBO Parking Lot

Not recommended for long-term viewing (you will likely be told to leave), but OK for a quick shot or two.

Locations to Avoid

FAA Facility

On your way to Spirit Drive (above), you will see a 747, DC-9 and smaller aircraft parked by the FAA hangar. There is an employee parking lot which gives excellent views of the 08 approach. Resist the temptation to use it, you will quickly be told to leave or possibly worse.

Kirtland AFB

Time was you could park on the access road with impunity. Since 2001, this is now a totally secure area.

Regular Traffic

Scheduled Passenger

  • Aeromexico Connect - ERJ
  • American Airlines - MD-80
    • American Eagle - CRJ-700
  • Continental Express (ExpressJet Airlines) - ERJ-145
  • Delta Air Lines - MD-80
    • Delta Connection (SkyWest Airlines) - CRJ-100, CRJ-900
    • Northwest Airlines - A319, A320
  • Frontier Airlines (Lynx Aviation) - Q400
  • Great Lakes Airlines - Beech 1900D
  • New Mexico Airlines - Cessna 208
  • Southwest Airlines - 737
  • United Airlines - A320
    • United Express (Shuttle America) - E-170
    • United Express (SkyWest Airlines) - CRJ-200, CRJ-700
  • US Airways - A319, A320
    • US Airways Express (Mesa Airlines) - CRJ-900

Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier at the airport. Traffic on the weekends is noticeably less than during the week.


The Sunport sees regular cargo services from FedEx and UPS. FedEx typically utilizes the Airbus A300/310 with the Boeing 727 still a common sight. UPS from time to time sends its A300 to Albuquerque, though the Boeing 757/767 are more common. As a rare treat, the DC-8 has been known to make an appearance.

General Aviation

Even with Double Eagle as the city's general aviation reliever airport, the Sunport sees its far share of general aviation traffic. Aircraft ranging from Skyhawks to Boeing Business Jets have been known to stop by for a visit. The Sunport is also home to Eclipse Aviation, makers of the Eclipse 500 very light jet.


With Kirtland Air Force Base occupying much of the western portion of the airfield, you are guaranteed to spot some type of military aircraft. The most dominant of these being helicopters. Spotting these may be difficult, as they depart from the base itself and fly south to the "Aux Field" and controlled firing areas. The base also plays host to the New Mexico Air National Guard equipped with F-16Cs. The 58th Special Operations Wing operates from Kirtland as well, affording the opportunity to see many C-130s.

The US Department of Energy maintains a ramp on the Kirtland portion of the field. Although flights are infrequent, they do afford an opportunity to spot "baby" DC-9s and deHavilland Twin Otters.

In addition to base traffic, transient military traffic is a regular occurrence at the Sunport. Anything is possible, from T-6A Texan IIs to F/A-18 Hornets. Royal Air Force VC-10s have been spotted a couple of times as well.

Facilities and Transportation