Orlando International Airport and Orlando Executive Airport serve the Greater Orlando area. Each airport caters to a specific category of traveler, with Orlando International serving commercial airline services and Orlando Executive serving general and corporate aviation flights. Orlando International Airport is also known by its International Air Transport Association designation, MCO. The IATA airport code for Orlando Executive Airport is ORL.
Opened in 1928 as Orlando Municipal Airport, Orlando Executive Airport was Central Florida's first commercial airfield. It is located three miles from downtown Orlando on an 1,056-acre site owned by the City of Orlando. In the 1960s, commercial passenger operations moved from ORL to McCoy Air Force Base, 12 miles from downtown. Following the closure of the base in 1975, the airport was renamed Orlando International Airport in 1976 and scheduled international services began in 1984.
Orlando Executive Airport serves as a general and corporate aviation airport primarily used by business and pleasure travelers operating private and chartered aircraft. Also used by law enforcement, air ambulances and search and rescue missions, the airport has a designation by the Federal Aviation Administration to relieve congestion for Orlando International Airport. MCO is the city's main airport for passenger travel, serving domestic and foreign commercial airlines with scheduled flights to Orlando. The airport also handles cargo, corporate and general aviation flights.
MCO and ORL provide 24-hour service and are equipped with FAA air traffic control towers. ORL has two terminal buildings managed by Showalter Flying Service and SheltAir Aviation Services and two runways measuring 6,004 and 4,625 feet in length. MCO has four runways, with two measuring 12,000 feet, and others measuring 10,000 and 9,000 feet. The 1,000-acre site includes support areas and a complex with two terminals, four air-side buildings and 96 gates. MCO's Orlando Tradeport is a 1,400-acre cargo center with a Foreign Trade Zone, U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Inspection Station and aviation support facilities. Both airports include U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities.
When opened in 1928, Pan Am operated flights from Orlando Executive Airport to Cuba and Puerto Rico. Delta, Eastern and National Airlines also operated at the airport. In 1968, commercial airline services ceased at ORL. At the time of publication, 35 airlines from the United States and abroad serve Orlando International Airport. At the time of publication, airlines provide flights to approximately 170 destinations in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and Europe.
Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in terms of aircraft operations in the Greater Orlando area. According to the Greater Orlando Airport Authority, MCO handles approximately 35.2 million passengers and 310,000 arrivals and departures annually. According to data from the FAA, MCO handled 368,906 take-offs and landings in the 12-month period ending on December 31, 2009, and ORL handled 103,216 arrivals and departures in the 12-month period ending on April 21, 2010.