Panama City’s small domestic airport, officially called Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert, is near the Gran Terminal de Transportes in Albrook, a former U.S. Air Force base. It’s just a couple of kilometers northwest of the heart of Panama City. Flights generally leave Panama City early in the morning, though some popular destinations have multiple daily departures scattered throughout the day.
Most taxi drivers won’t know the airport by name: Ask to go to the “Aeropuerto de Albrook.” Emphasize that you want to go to Albrook to avoid being taken to Tocumen, the international airport. The fare from most parts of Panama City should be only a few dollars.
It will generally make more sense, and even be more economical overall, to take a taxi directly to the airport than fool with making the short ride from downtown to Albrook by bus.
Panama’s two domestic carriers fly out of the airport, the country’s major domestic air hub. They fly to Bocas del Toro, Kuna Yala, the Darién, David, the Islas Perlas, and a few other mainland destinations. Prices are the same for both airlines.
Aeroperlas (tel. 315-7500, fax 315-7580, www.aeroperlas.com) is the dominant carrier, with more routes and business.
The newer Air Panama (tel. 316-9000, www.flyairpanama.com) flies to most of the same destinations as Aeroperlas.
At the airport, good Boquete-grown coffee is available at Café Kotowa (5 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 6 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.). A branch of El Hombre de La Mancha bookstores recently opened. There’s also a greasy-spoon cafeteria that opens before dawn. Branches of the major rental-car companies are at the airport, but whether they’ll be staffed is a different question. There’s an ATM near the airport entrance.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition