Juan Santamaría Airport Predicted to Reach Capacity by 2038; New Airport Construction Needed - Expat Community

Juan Santamaría Airport Predicted to Reach Capacity by 2038; New Airport Construction Needed

Oct 6, 2023 | Costa Rica, News & Articles | 0 comments

An analysis commissioned by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) predicts that the Juan Santamaría International Airport (AIJS) will reach its capacity in 15 years, approximately by 2038. According to the analysis, the airport’s lifespan is expected to be between 15 and 20 years, prompting officials to consider constructing a new international airport in Orotina, Alajuela.


The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), which oversees the DGAC, announced that it intends to revive the airport project in Orotina, which was previously put forward during the Solís Rivera Administration (2014-2018) but was deemed unfeasible by the succeeding government of Carlos Alvarado (2018-2022). The Orotina airport project was a key initiative under President Luis Guillermo Solís, who had extensively promoted plans to build the country’s main air terminal in Orotina to relieve AIJS.


Due to its geographical conditions and proximity to the Central Valley, Orotina was seen as an ideal location for the new airport. Despite being labeled a “national project” estimated to cost $2.5 billion, the plan was publicly dismissed in 2019 by then-Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Rodolfo Méndez Mata.


Current Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Luis Amador, stated that, even with additional construction, AIJS’s lifespan could not be extended beyond 2043. The report suggests a new airport in Orotina must proceed, but with necessary adjustments and reviews to the original plan, including infrastructure and demand studies, and improvements to the San José-Caldera route and the train to Orotina.


The analysis indicates that AIJS will not be able to accommodate the projected demand for passenger and cargo flights in 15 years. Orotina was favored due to favorable climatic conditions, and planning for the new airport should begin now, although the final project cost remains uncertain and will depend on the required studies.


The consultant who analyzed the project between 2016 and 2017 estimated that over $2.2 billion would be needed for construction. The government has yet to begin the expropriation of approximately 370 properties in the Mastate, Coyolar, and La Ceiba sectors, owned by over 400 individuals. These lands were declared of public interest through executive decree, but no expropriation has been finalized to date.


Regarding AIJS, it is worth noting that the State agreed to extend the contractual relationship with the company Aeris, which manages the airport, for an additional 10 years, with the contract now valid until 2026. This extension recognizes a “financial imbalance” of $109 million resulting from the decrease in passenger flow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aeris has operated AIJS since 2009, taking over from Alterra Partners.


In the first half of 2023, AIJS served over 2.8 million passengers, a nearly 6% increase compared to 2019 (the year before the COVID-19 pandemic began). Currently, it provides services to 25 airlines connecting Costa Rica with 35 destinations in North America, South America, Central America, and Europe.


The Chaves Robles Administration (2022-2026) plans to continue modernizing Limón International Airport, repairing the runway at Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, and advancing archaeological studies for the potential construction of a new international airport in the Southern Zone.


CRHOY – https://www.crhoy.com/nacionales/el-juan-santamaria-colapsaria-en-2038-habra-que-construir-n/

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