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$2 billion airport in Costa Rica

Monday, June 5, 2017

Costa Rica may not yet be ready for a new international airport, whose master plan was presented last week by an international consulting firm.

Long-term, however, it makes sense to develop a project with a capacity for two runways, located in Orotina, 40 kilometers from the capital.

Timing is an issues, since standard fees paid by users - mainly passengers, airlines and commercial tenants – for projected annual traffic of 7 million passengers by a potential launch date of 2026, may not be enough to pay for the airport, unless there is a public subsidy.

The first phase of the project would involve an investment of $2 billion, according to the plan prepared by Mott MacDonald, not counting the cost of a proposed rail line, which would connect the new airport with San José.

The capital’s current international airport, Juan Santamaría, is run as a concession by Aeris Holding Costa Rica SA, a company jointly controlled by United States-based Airports Worldwide Inc. and Companhía de Participações em Concessões, a private company which operates highways, airports, urban roads, and related businesses in Brazil.

As traffic grows, however, the new airport is likely to be developed.

The Orotina location will be able to handle a higher volume of take-offs and landings, as there is room for two runways, while dry prevailing westerly winds mean fewer delays due to rainy weather.

Located near the capital, Juan Santamaría has little or no possibility of adding a second runway.

Orotina in addition is close to the Pacific coastal region popular with tourists.