Can you imagine a plane landing at the airport that it wasn’t? That same happened with a Boeing 707 of Trans World Airlines TWA in 1976. The US carrier aircraft (TWA) landed in what is now Avenue Kabah in Cancun instead of the relatively new airport. Although the confusion did not happen to adults and did not cause any injured person, it was marked in the history of Cancun, Quintana Roo.
It was 1976, the then-new and today Cancun International Airport had only been opened for a few months. This replaced the one that had been built in 1942 initially for the use of a chiclero businessman Francisco Polo Montes. With the rise of Cancun as a tourist destination, the government built a new air terminal 15 kilometers from the original.
However, according to legend, no one was responsible for removing the paint from the runway or removing the control tower from the old Cancun airport. This caused the TWA Pilots to get confused and, on the approach to Cancun, they headed towards the old runway which, it should be mentioned, was quite short. Another of the theories runs between the comments of some people from Cancun who point out that the confusion could have been on the part of the Pilots. It is believed that there may have been ignorance of the new airport and they confused the abandoned runway because TWA did not carry out regular operations to Cancun.
After the complex landing, confusion invaded the TWA Pilots when no one came out to meet the Boeing 707. The Captain had requested the equipment on the ground, but the Controller did not see any aircraft; neither party was understanding what was going on. It was not until the Pilot said that he was observing a wooden control tower that the controllers realized what was happening. TWA’s 707 had landed at the old airport and not at the new Cancun International Airport.
Faced with this situation, the Cancun airport staff sent a truck and Customs and Immigration personnel to receive foreign tourists. According to the testimony that Victor Sumohano shared on social networks, in order to get TWA’s Boeing 707 to take off from the small disused runway, they had to perform several maneuvers. Among them, he mentions removing seats from the passenger aircraft to reduce its weight.
Today, that short track is what is now known as Kabah Avenue and the control tower remains as if it were a monument in the middle of a roundabout within the city. For its part, the Cancun International Airport has grown exponentially hand in hand with national and international tourism. It currently has five terminals and is the second busiest in Mexico. In 2019, this airport received more than 19 million passengers and now, so far this year, it has registered more than 15 and a half million passengers.