Sania Ramel Airport

Sania Ramel Airport
مطار تطوان سانية الرمل
Aéroport Tétouan – Sania R'mel
Airport type Public
Operator ONDA
Serves Tétouan, Morocco
Elevation AMSL 10 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 35°35′40″N 005°19′12″W / 35.59444°N 5.32000°W / 35.59444; -5.32000

Location of airport in Morocco

Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 2,300 7,546 Concrete
Statistics (2008)
Aircraft movements 1,147
Passengers 15,039
Sources: ONDA,[1] DAFIF[2][3]

Sania Ramel Airport (Arabic: مطار تطوان سانية الرمل, French: Aéroport Tétouan – Sania R'mel) (IATA: TTU, ICAO: GMTN) is an airport serving Tétouan,[3] a city in the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region in Morocco. It is also the closest airport to the Spanish city of Ceuta (which only has a heliport). The airport served over 15,000 passengers in the year 2008.[1]


Sania Ramel was the first military airfield built in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco.[4] It was located near the main Spanish Army camps in Tetouan[5] and started operations in October–November 1913. Despite the small size of the facilities (700 x 350 meters)[5] it became a key element in the Spanish military effort in the West front of the Rif War, even if it was prone to flooding in winter.[4]

On 1 July 1927 civilian operations started in the airfield, which became a stopover in the postal flight route between Larache and Seville for some months that year. After the stop in Tetouan was cancelled, it is not known if more civilian flights continued to use the facilities.[6]

It also played a relevant role in the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. In the early morning of 18 July 1936, the commander of the military air base, Ricardo de la Puente (Francisco Franco's cousin), refused to join the uprising against the government of the Republic. Nevertheless, lacking reinforcements from Madrid, he had to surrender to the rebels after a few hours of combat (he would be subsequently executed in August by the new Nationalist authorities in the Mount Hacho Fortress in Ceuta; Franco did nothing to prevent it).[7] Before surrendering the base, De la Puente managed to render useless all the Breguet bombers parked there. On the following day, 19 July, the de Havilland Dragon Rapide flying Francisco Franco from the Canary Islands landed in Sania Ramel,[8] where the senior rebel officers welcomed him and Franco assumed command of the Spanish Army in Morocco.[9] They held an improvised conference around the plane.

The most important contribution of the Sania Ramel airfield to the Nationalist war effort during the Spanish Civil War was its role in the airlift that flew most of the Army of Africa into mainland Spain. It was the world's first long-range combat airlift.[10] At that time, the rebels in Spanish Morocco were being blocked by the Spanish fleet which remained mostly loyal to the government and the Army of Africa, the only professional army in Spain, was key to secure the rebellion in mainland Spain. On 23 July a German Lufthansa plane, which had been requisitioned by the rebels, took off from Sania Ramel taking Franco's delegation to Berlin. Its purpose was to convince Hitler to supply the rebels with transport aircraft.[11] On 28 July, the Ju 52 that took the delegation back to Tetouan started the airlift into the Tablada airfield in Seville, running four flights a day. On 31 July, the first three Ju 52 (out of the ten promised by Hitler) arrived to Tetouan. The following ones arrived some days later. A dummy company (HISMA) was set up in Tetouan to provide cover up for the operation.[12] It was to be known as Operation Magic Fire.[13] Together with the Italian Air Force Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 supplied by Mussolini, the airlift carried about 13,000 soldiers and 270 tons of cargo until the operation was completed in November.[14]

Before the start of the Spanish Civil War, a paved runway was built which enabled Sania Ramel to serve as civil airport for Tetouan. Thus, after the end of the HISMA operations, Iberia took charge of the passenger and cargo operations in Sania Ramel. Initially, two routes were established. One from Tetouan to Zaragoza, and another one to Vitoria. The Tetouan airport continued to be relevant for the new regime and despite fuel supply restrictions two routes continued to make stopovers at Sania Ramel during the early post-war period: Madrid-Seville-Tetouan-Melilla and Seville-Tetouan-Canary Islands. Although by 1943 only the former route kept operating, the airport was enlarged.[15]

After Morocco's independence in 1957, the airport was transferred to the new administration,[4] after which it started to decline. Only small aircraft currently land at the Sania Ramel facilities and even if there were plans to make greater use of the airport, urban development in the surrounding areas would make it unfeasible.[15]


Aircraft parking space of 11,300 square metres (121,632 sq ft) supports two ATR 42 and Boeing 737-800s. The air terminal is 1,200 m2 (12,917 sq ft) and designed to handle 300,000 passengers per year.[1]

The paved runway is laid out in the direction 06/24 and measures 2,300 by 45 metres (7,546 ft × 148 ft). It can receive aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737-800 or Airbus 320. The airport offers the following radio navigation aids: VOR  DME.[1]

Airlines and destinations

Royal Air Maroc
operated by Royal Air Maroc Express
Al Hoceima, Casablanca
TUIfly Belgium Seasonal: Liége


Subject[16] 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Aircraft movements 110 188 152 198 297 356
Passengers 1,065 13,138 10,948 14,788 18,979 24,010


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Tétouan". ONDA. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  2. Airport information for GMTN from DAFIF (effective October 2006)
  3. 1 2 Airport information for TTU at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  4. 1 2 3 "Aeródromos históricos: Tetuán" (in Spanish). Ministry of Defence (Spain). Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  5. 1 2 Araque Jiménez, Eduardo; Garrido Almonacid, Antonio. "Koudiat Taifour y la llanura de Tetuán: oportunidades para su conservación" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad de Jaén. p. 6.
  6. Araque Jiménez, Eduardo; Garrido Almonacid, Antonio. "Koudiat Taifour y la llanura de Tetuán: oportunidades para su conservación" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad de Jaén. p. 7-8.
  7. Sánchez Montoya, Francisco (18 July 2004). "El primo al que Franco ejecutó". Crónica de El Mundo (in Spanish) (457).
  8. Alpert, Michael (April 2002). BBC History Magazine. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Beevor, Antony (2005). La Guerra Civil Española (in Spanish). Crítica. p. 93. ISBN 84-8432-665-9.
  10. Per photograph caption pg.146 and also text pg.201, Air Power, Budiansky, Stephen, Penguin Group, London England 2005
  11. Alía Miranda, Francisco (2011). Julio de 1936 (in Spanish). Barcelona: Crítica. p. 189. ISBN 978-84-9892-208-0.
  12. Alpert, Michael (1994). A New International History of the Spanish Civil War. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 30-31. ISBN 0312120168.
  13. Alpert, Michael (1994). A New International History of the Spanish Civil War. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 31. ISBN 0312120168.
  14. Alía Miranda, Francisco (2011). Julio de 1936 (in Spanish). Barcelona: Crítica. p. 190. ISBN 978-84-9892-208-0.
  15. 1 2 Araque Jiménez, Eduardo; Garrido Almonacid, Antonio. "Koudiat Taifour y la llanura de Tetuán: oportunidades para su conservación" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad de Jaén. p. 8.
  16. Statistics from A-Z Worldairports database, visited on 23 July 2008
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