Little Support for New Airport in Costa Rica

The Government's initiative to build an airport in the south of the country does not have the approval of the tourism industry or environmental groups.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Currently, the Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica is one of the least visited of the country, with between 70,000 and 120,000 tourists a year. Local tour operators are mostly small and take advantage of the area’s natural beauty in order to attract customers.

The government's plan to boost tourism centers around building an international airport in the area. The contract for the performance of environmental impact studies has already been put out to tender by the OACI.

The proposal has been rejected by business owners in the area, who fear for the ecotourism model used in the region, and by environmentalists, who claim that the area would lose its identity, because the airport "would require mass tourism, hotel chains and the entry of international franchising, " as indicated by Alejandra Monge of the Corcovado Foundation.

In response to criticism, Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation Authority has reduced the project from an international airport to one servicing only chartered and corporate flights.

This change has not altered the position of opponents, who propose other solutions. Juan Carlos Ramos, president of the National Chamber of Tourism, said they see improving the existing road network and expanding existing airports, such as Quepos, as a more feasible option.

More on this topic

Costa Rica: Future of Airport Infrastructure Uncertain

April 2013

Existing airports, with their obvious limitations, are unable to deal with the passenger numbers predicted for 2025.

The Spanish firm Ineco, which has developed a diagnostic report at the request of the authorities of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC by its initials in Spanish), estimated that within 12 years, San Jose International Airport will become obsolete and will be unable to guarantee the mobilization of 7 million passengers a year, at a growth rate of 4.8% annually.

Plans to Build New Airport in Limon

January 2013

The current airport on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is easily flooded and lacks the necessary conditions for being an international terminal.

The abundant rainfall characteristic of the area often causes waters to flood the runway of the international airport, leaving it inoperative.

New International Airport in Costa Rica

May 2012

A contract has been awarded for environmental feasibility studies for a new international airport in southern Costa Rica.

The Spanish consortium formed by Acciona Ingeniería and its Costa Rican partner Interforest won the tender carried out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to conduct an environmental feasibility study for a new airport in the southern region.

Costa Rica: A Push for Airport Construction in the South

September 2011

The Government has discarded plans to build a 'mega-airport' between Sierpe and Palmar de Osa and is proposing a terminal to attend to charter and corporate flights.

Concern from environmentalists, because the construction would take place near the great Térraba-Sierpe marsh, along with complaints from the tourist industry about the impact on a region that lacks sufficient hotel facilities, contributed to the change in plans.

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