November 15th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) If the forecasts of the Civil Aviation Department are correct, 9 million passengers will pass through the Juan Santamaria International Airport in 2025, an amount that is beyond the airport’s capacity.
The forecast has authorities dusting off plans of building a new, more modern airport, which would be better equipped for handling large aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400, an Airbus A340-600 or a Boeing 777.
Currently, when an airliner of this type lands at Juan Santamaria, the rest of the airport is paralyzed, as the space between the landing strip and the taxiing lane is insufficient for aircraft of such size.
The idea of “retiring” the Juan Santamaria airport is not new. The idea has been floating around since 1996.
Back then, the American consulting firm TAMS Inc. recommended that the Civil Aviation Department transfer the administration of the existing airport to private hands, while building a new international airport that would begin operation in 2020.
Luis Carlos Araya, current Vice Minister of Air Transportation, said that the time to act is now, as the upgrades that have been made to Juan Santamaria will only suffice until 2025, just five years longer than what TAMS had anticipated back in 1996.
“If this country does not have the necessary infrastructure, and with a growing tourism sector, we will start encountering problems in just a few years,” he said.
Among possible proposals is the “2025 Airport,” which would be larger than the Juan Santamaria Airport. The location that has been recommended is located in Coyolar de Orotina, also in Alajuela.
That plan would require an extension and improvement of the San Jose-Caldera highway.
The Juan Santamaria airport would become a local or regional airport for light aircraft. The Tobias Bolanos airport in Pavas would be shut down.