Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport

Last updated

Johan Adolf Pengel
International Airport

Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport
PBM Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
OperatorJohan Adolf Pengel International Airport (JAPIA) Corporation
Serves Paramaribo
Hub for
Elevation  AMSL 59 ft / 18 m
Coordinates 05°27′10.19″N55°11′16.02″W / 5.4528306°N 55.1877833°W / 5.4528306; -55.1877833 Coordinates: 05°27′10.19″N55°11′16.02″W / 5.4528306°N 55.1877833°W / 5.4528306; -55.1877833
Suriname location map.svg
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Location in Zanderij , Suriname
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Airplane silhouette.svg
PBM/SMJP (South America)
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PBM/SMJP (America)
Direction LengthSurface
Statistics (2018)
Total Passengers157,737
Aircraft Movements1,266
Source: JAPI Airport [1]

Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport( IATA : PBM, ICAO : SMJP), also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, and locally referred to simply as JAP, is an airport located in the town of Zanderij and hub for airline carrier Surinam Airways, 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Paramaribo. It is the larger of Suriname's two international airports, [2] the other being Zorg en Hoop with scheduled flights to Guyana, and is operated by Airport Management, Ltd./ NV Luchthavenbeheer.



The early years

Prior to World War II, Zandery Airport was a Pan American World Airways (PAA) stop. In 1928 Pan American World Airways started mail flights from Miami to Paramaribo, the capital of the then Dutch colony Suriname. Pan American World Airways used Sikorsky S-38 amphibians. Rich and famous Americans, mostly aviators, visited Suriname. [3] On 24 March 1934 female pilot Guggenheim and male pilot Russel Thaw had to make an emergency landing near the Nieuwe Haven, because they could not find Zanderij airfield. The Lockheed airplane was so severely damaged that it was shipped back to the USA. On 16 April 1934 female aviator Laura Ingalls landed in a single engine airplane, the Lockheed Air Express at Zanderij in the first solo flight around South America in a landplane. The KLM tri-motor Fokker F.XVIII, named the Snip (Snipe), made a trans-atlantic crossing from Amsterdam via Paramaribo to Curaçao, carrying mail. The trip of 12,200 km (more than 4,000 over water) landed 8 days after take-off from Schiphol, on 22 December 1934 at Hato Airport. Captain was J.J. Hongdong, co-pilot/navigator J.J. van Balkom, engineer L.D. Stolk, wireless operator S. v.d. Molen. The route was from Amsterdam via Marseille, Alicante, Casablanca, Cabo Verde, Paramaribo and Caracas. [4] The SNIP landed at Zanderij Field on 20 December 1934 after a first trans-atlantic crossing of 3600 km, dubbed "the Christmas Mail-flight", directly from Porto Praia. However, the Snip flight did not inaugurate a regular KLM trans-Atlantic service. In January 1937 William Henry Vanderbilt III landed in a baby Clipper Sikorsky S-38 at Zanderij with wife and friends The Flying Hutchinsons. On 3 June 1937 aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart landed at Zanderij with a Lockheed Model 10 Electra at local time 2:38 P.M. The navigator was a retired PAA aviator Fred Noonan. [5] This was on their second attempt of a "World Flight" en route from Miami to Natal and then transatlantic to Dakar, Senegal. [6] They stayed overnight at the Palace Hotel in Paramaribo and left Zanderij again on Friday 4 June 1937 for Fortaleza, Brazil. [7] One month later they disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. [8] On 16 March 1938 two pilots Whitney and Harmon made an emergency landing with their Beechcraft on an airstrip near the Eerste Rijweg. They could not find Zanderij Airfield. In 1938 the KLM started a weekly service between Paramaribo and Willemstad (Curaçao) with a twin engined Lockheed L-14 Super Electra able to carry 12 passengers and named MEEUW (PJ-AIM). Mail arrived much faster at Curaçao than with PAA, but the service was no commercial success. [9] On 11 May 1939 The Flying Hutchinsons arrived at Zanderij in a twin engine Lockheed Electra, on their "family round-the-world global nations flight" which was broadcast on a radio series sponsored by Pepsi Cola. [10] [11]

Expansion during World War II by the US Armed Forces

After the fall of the Netherlands to German forces in 1940, the United States obtained military basing rights to the airport from the Netherlands government-in-exile in London. Suriname was then the world's principal source of bauxite (for aluminium production) and needed protection. The first American armed forces arrived at the airport on 30 November 1941 and expanded the facilities to be a transport base for sending Lend-Lease supplies to England via air routes across the South Atlantic Ocean. The runways were constructed by the US Corps of Engineers. They also built the road from Onverwacht to Zanderij which was completed in 1942.

With the United States entry into the war in December 1941, the importance of Zandery Field increased drastically, becoming a major transport base on the South Atlantic route of Air Transport Command ferrying supplies and personnel to Freetown Airport, Sierra Leone and onwards to the European and African theaters of the war. In addition, antisubmarine patrols were flown from the airfield over the southern Caribbean and South Atlantic coastlines.

Major United States Army Air Force (USAAF) units assigned to the airfield were:

Detachment operated from: Atkinson Field, British Guiana, 1 November 1942 – 7 October 1943
Detachment operated from: Piarco Airport, Trinidad, 27 August-12 October 1943

Just before the Pearl Harbor attack, on 3 December, the 99th Squadron was ordered to distant Zandery Field, Dutch Guiana (by way of Piarco Field, Trinidad) under an agreement with the Netherlands government-in-exile, by which the United States occupied the colony to protect bauxite mines. However, to the disappointment of the crews, the squadron had to leave its B-17 behind. It was, however, reinforced with additional B-18A Bolos, bringing squadron strength up to six aircraft. On 2 October 1942, a B-18A, piloted by Captain Howard Burhanna Jr. of the 99th Bomb Squadron, depth charged and sank the German submarine U-512 north of Cayenne, French Guiana. [12]

At Zandery, the unit shuttled from Zandery to Atkinson Field, British Guiana and, by January 1942, had eight Curtiss P-40C Warhawks assigned. The P-40s were, in actuality, detached for airfield defense by the Trinidad Base Command, under which the 99th fell at the time. [13]

The intensive flying of the first two months of the war soon took its toll, however, and by the end of February 1942, the Squadron was forced to report that it had but three B-18As operational at Zandery and that " ... none of them are airworthy at this time." Apparently the unit was quickly reinforced and by 1 March strength was back up to six aircraft, and seven combat crews, all of whom had more than 12 months' experience.

Operations from Zandery Field consisted of coastal, convoy and anti-submarine patrols until 31 October 1942. Just prior to which time the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron was attached to the Squadron between 9 and 16 October. At this point Antisubmarine Command took over the mission of the 99th and the men and aircraft of the squadron were reassigned.

In the middle of World War II, on 2 November 1943, Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana visited Suriname from Canada. She landed at Zanderij with KLM airplane Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra PJ-AIM Meeuw as the first ever member of the Dutch Royal Family. After the landing of the Meeuw and escorting Dutch and US military planes, the Royal Princess was welcomed by governor Kielstra and inspected the guard of honour.

With the end of World War II Zandery Airfield was reduced in scope to a skeleton staff. It was closed as a military facility on 30 April 1946. And on 22 October 1947 the Zandery Air Force Base was turned over to Dutch authorities which returned it to a civil airport. At that time the value of the facility was estimated to be 400,000 Surinamese guilders ().

Highlights in the years after the second World War

Passengers disembarking from a KLM airliner (foreground) at Johan Pengel Airport. The President of India and his entourage had arrived via the Air India airliner (background) moments prior. 19 June 2018 Disembarking, Johan Pengel Airport.jpg
Passengers disembarking from a KLM airliner (foreground) at Johan Pengel Airport. The President of India and his entourage had arrived via the Air India airliner (background) moments prior. 19 June 2018

In March 1947 Alfredo de Los Rios landed with a 8-F Luscombe plane at Zanderij. [14] He had traveled from the aircraft factory Dallas, Texas in the United States. In June 1959 pilots and missionaries Robert Price and Eugene Friesen arrived at Zandery with a single engine plane during Operation Grasshopper. They performed many medical treatment work in the interior and the Sipaliwini Savanna. On 3 March 1960 American president Dwight D. Eisenhower landed at Zanderij on board Air Force One operated by the U.S. Air Force with a Boeing 707 jetliner. [15] He was accompanied by Secretary of State Christian Herter. They left Suriname the same day. On 14 April 1967 American president Lyndon B. Johnson arrived during a rainstorm at Zanderij on board Air Force One, a Boeing 707 jet. Security was tight around Zanderij Airport. An agreement was signed by the Dutch government and the US to use Zanderij Airport for Military Airlift Command (MAC) usage. The USA paid US$22,000 for 400 landings per year. The crews stayed overnight at the Torarica Hotel. The North American X-15 NASA rocket-powered aircraft was on exhibition at Zanderij Airport for an Airshow held from 8 to 13 November 1963. On 7 April 1972, the first-ever Boeing 747 wide-body jetliner to land in South America, operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, landed at Zanderij Airport, Suriname. With one of the longest runways in the Caribbean region, it served the Antonov An-225 Mriya – the world’s largest cargo plane in 2010. [16] [17] [18]

The airport has officially been named after the popular Surinamese politician and former Prime Minister of Suriname Johan Adolf Pengel, but is locally still common named Zanderij. This is parallel to the small village and savannah where it is situated. The airport now has one runway of approximately 3.5 km [19] and reached an average of 500,000 passengers yearly in December 2019. [20] This is achieved mainly on transatlantic flights between Paramaribo and Amsterdam from KLM, TUI fly Netherlands and Surinam Airways and some regional flights to Belem, Georgetown, Cayenne, Panama City and Miami by Trans Guyana Airways with their Beechcraft 1900D, Copa Airlines, Gol and Surinam Airways with their Boeing 737's. And also flights to the Caribbean islands destinations of Aruba, Curacao, Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Port of Spain accommodated by Caribbean Airlines, besides local companies Fly All Ways and Surinam Airways. Cargo flights are being performed by Amerijet International and Northern Air Cargo.


The state will invest an extra US$70 million in expanding and modernizing the J.A. Pengel airport. [19] US$28.5 million has been invested so far in the airport's modernization. For the time being, the arrival lounge, commercial center and parking lot have been handed over, while the runway has been repaved, the platform for planes has been renovated, the runway lights on the arrival side have been replaced and a backup system for electricity has been installed as well. This was all done prior to the 30 August 2013 UNASUR heads-of-state summit, hosted by Suriname. The project, which was prepared during the previous administration, is insufficient to actually turn the airport into an international hub. The departure and arrival lounges are currently apart from each other, but plans are to connect them in the future with airbridges. Lights were placed on the departure side of the runway, and the platform was expanded to accommodate more planes. The fire department barracks were moved to a more central location. Plans are to have the airbridges installed in the future, while the other matters were finished by 2017. The expansion of the airport will not only include the construction of a new terminal, but also the construction of a 2.7 km taxiway that will run parallel to the long 3.5 km runway. The total investment involves an amount of approximately US$205 million and approval for the loan agreement will be put forward to the National Assembly (DNA) of the Surinamese government by airport management mid-2019. [21] The new airport terminal with a much more capacious arrival and departure hall is planned for the near future, the result of investment from China, as the current airport terminal cannot facilitate an increasing number of passengers while the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport is making a continuous effort in route development management to attract more airlines. Suriname is looking into new markets through bilateral and open-skies agreements with different countries.

Airlines and destinations


‹The template Airport destination list is being considered for deletion.› 

American Airlines Miami
Caribbean Airlines Port of Spain
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Fly All Ways Camagüey, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Curaçao
Seasonal: Port-au-Prince,St. Maarten
KLM Amsterdam
Surinam Airways Amsterdam, Aruba, Curaçao, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Miami, Port of Spain
Seasonal: Orlando/Sanford
Charter: Port-au-Prince
Trans Guyana Airways Georgetown–Correira
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam


‹The template Airport destination list is being considered for deletion.› 

Amerijet International Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Miami, Port of Spain
Northern Air Cargo Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Miami, Port of Spain


See source Wikidata query and sources.

Incidents and accidents

See also

Related Research Articles

Surinam Airways, also known by its initials SLM, is the flag carrier of Suriname, based in Paramaribo. It operates regional and long-haul scheduled passenger services. Its hub is at Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport (Zanderij). Surinam Airways is wholly owned by the Government of Suriname.

Trans Guyana Airways Limited is a Guyanese airline which commenced operations in 1956 in Georgetown, Guyana, with a single float airplane. Since then, the company has expanded their fleet to provide domestic and regional transportation, and to Guyana's remote areas.

Zanderij Village in Para, Suriname

Zanderij is a village located in the northern part of Suriname, situated 50 kilometres south of the capital Paramaribo on the Southern East-West Link. The Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport is located near the village.

Surinam Airways Flight 764 1989 aviation accident

Surinam Airways Flight 764 was an international scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands to Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport in Suriname on a Surinam Airways DC-8-62. On Wednesday 7 June 1989, the flight crashed during approach to Paramaribo-Zanderij, killing 178 of the 187 on board. It is the deadliest aviation disaster in Suriname's history.

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Frits Goodings Dutch footballer

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Ruben Kogeldans Dutch footballer

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