SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–On July 12th a complete article in LA NACION, Costa Rica’s main newspaper informed of the new flights and airlines that will start operations to Costa Rica. On August 16th Avianca Airlines Costa Rican division under the name of LACSA will start flights from San Jose to Santiago, Chile via Bogota and from San Jose to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil always via ElDorado International Airport at the Colombian capital. Also in August Cubana Airlines (the flag carrier of Cuba) will reinstate flights between Havana and San Jose. The airline used to operate the routes some years ago until it code shared it with TACA. Last year TACA suspended the route linking Cuba with Costa Rica. By November 1st the American carrier JetBlue Airways will open Boston-Liberia flights. For the end of the year the Civil Aviation of Costa Rica (DGAC) will have the final permits of the certification process of Air Costa Rica (Tica Air International) a new Costa Rican airline. The airline plans to start flights to Miami, Managua, Panama and San Andres Island. A second phase would include Quito, Guayaquil and Havana and a third phase would include New York and Los Angeles, routes once operated by LACSA. A second Costa Rican carrier, TICOS AIR has not been able to move forward in their certification process explained Alvaro Vargas, the director of the aviation department. Also Salvadorian start-up VECA Airlines is expected to obtain final permits to operate San Salvad0r-San Jose run. Vargas also mentioned Brazilian airline AZUL Linhas Aereas has been interested in learning about permit processes. Other airlines that have been metioned as interested in Costa Rica include Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, Eastern Airlines, TAME of Ecuador and CONVIASA of Venezuela.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–VECA Airlines (Vuelos Economicos de Centro America) the new start-up airline and El Salvador’s flag carrier established in late 2013 in San Salvador, El Salvador is close to start its international operations. The main airline hub is located in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (formerly Comalapa International Airport). The airline is expected to commence service in June 2014 with regional service to major cities in Central America. VECA Airlines is expected to start their services with two Airbus A-319 leased from lessor International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The first of these, a former Cyprus Airways aircraft, has already been delivered to the carrier, while its sistership is being prepared in Miami, Florida ahead of its official handover to the start-up. Both aircraft will be configured in a single-class, 144-seat economy class arrangement. The start-up intends to bring competition into the Central American market following the recent merger of Avianca and TACA Airlines. Several former TACA Airlines employees work now at VECA Airlines, the new runner up as the Salvadorian major airline after the absorption of TACA Airlines by the Colombian flag carrier. It is unclear if VECA Airlines will expand it’s “Wings” beyong the Central American countries but Salvadorian and Nicaraguan authorities hope the airline would open flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York and Washington-DC. VECA Airlines will operate to Guatemala City, San Pedro-Sula, Managua, Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. The Juan Santamaria International Airport will be VECA Airlines secondary airport.
MIAMI, Florida–A group of American Leisure travel agents have declared the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica as the hottest destination in 2014. The opening of Liberia’s International Airport (official name: Daniel Oduber International Airport) has triggered a development of new hotel and resort properties. Last December Hyatt opened its first Central American resort, the Andaz Papagayo Bay. This hotel has already been named one of the best resorts in 2014: http://www.cntraveler.com/hot-list/2014/best-new-hotels-world-photos_slideshow_Andaz-Peninsula-Papagayo-_17. In February Preferred Boutique Resorts opened El Mangroove at Panama Beach, also in the Papagayo Bay. For November 2014 AM Resorts will opened The Dreams Las Mareas at the beautiful Salinas Bay: http://www.dreamsresorts.com/las-mareas. For 2015 two new additional resorts will open: Melia Paradisus Papagayo Bay and the FEN Resort at Tamarindo Beach. Future projects include: a Marriott, a Wyndham, a Mandarin Oriental and a super deluxe Rosewood Resort in Monte del Barco. Guanacaste is often called “The Golden Coast” or the Costa Rican Riviera. The growth and development of new high end resorts has places the region as the hottest destination for Honeymoons and Weddings, Golfing and Meetings & Incentives. Liberia International Airport is serviced by American Airlines, Jetblue, United, USAirways, Frontier Airlines, DELTA Airlines, Sun Country, Air Canada, West Jet, Sun Wing Airlines and Air Transat from North American cities, plus COPA and Avianca from Panama City and San Salvador respectively. Domestic airlines SANSA and Nature Air operate flights from San Jose.
CARACAS, Venezuela–President Nicolas Maduro warned airlines not to limit flights in and out of Venezuela, days after Avianca reported was reducing flights to Caracas amid industry complaints of billions of dollars in unpaid debts. “Airlines have no excuse to reduce their flights to Venezuela”, Maduro said during a press conference. “If airlines reduce flights, I will take severe measures.” Airlines have struggled to obtain dollars in exchange for the Bolivar currency as a result of long-running delays in Venezuela’s 11-year-old currency control system. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week said that airlines are owed USD $3.7 billion and that some are considering halting service to Venezuela. “If an airline leaves the country, it’s not coming back while we are in government”, Maduro said, casting the airlines’ complaints as part of a wider economic war against his socialist government by political foes and businesses. Maduro also said, however, that his government would pay debts to the airline industry. Avianca Holdings, operator of Colombia’s biggest airline, on Thursday told travel agents it will cut flights between the countries’ capitals to one day from three as of March 20th. Avianca will suspend flights between Caracas and San Jose, Costa Rica, as part of an effort “to match supply to market needs” and reduce the number of seats available between Caracas and Lima. The company’s Chief Executive said that currency controls hade made it difficul to bring revenue worrth about USD$300 million out of Venezuela. German airline Lufthansa said this month its 2013 financial results took a double-digit million euro hit from payment issues in Venezuela. Maduro said that various airlines around the world were ready to step in and cover any unfilled routes. “They’re asking permission to cover flights to Colombia, Panama, Central and South America”, he said without giving more details. Venezuelan state-run air carrier CONVIASA is expected to take over several routes like the Caracas-San Jose run.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The Civil Aviation General Directorate of Costa Rica announced in the nations capital, the Brunca Region International Airport (South Pacific of Costa Rica) will become in several years a reality. The international airport will be located 5 kilometers of the town of Palmar, close to the Sierpe wetlands in the Province of Puntarenas. The AIRB (in spanish Aeropuerto Internacional Region Brunca) will be constructed in the next four years and it is expected the new President of Costa Rica that will take power on May, will focus in the development of this important international airport in the South Pacific region. The construction of the airport will have two phases. Phase 1 will include a runway of 2,200 meters long by 45 meters wide. The terminal building would be able to attend from 150 to 200 passengers per flight. For Phase 2 the runway would be extended to 3,300 meters. “The airport has the objective to serve and facilitate the arrivals of airplanes like the Hercules C-130, equiped to transport emergency materials”, Alvaro Vargas, the director of the Civil Aviation informed. The commercial airplanes that are expected to service the AIRB are Airbus 320 family of jets (A-320,A-319 and A-318), Embraer E-190, the regional ATR-72s, De Havilland DHC-8 and Learjets. In addition to U.S. and Canadian carriers, the DGAC hopes that airlines like Avianca and COPA Airlines would operate flights from their respective hubs in San Salvador and Panama City. Also new start-ups in Costa Rica like Ticos Air and TIA (Ticas International Airlines) will be invited to operate in the Brunca Region International Airport.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Avianca informed on March 12th, it will suspend its San Jose-Caracas-San Jose route effective April 7th. The route has been operated by LACSA since the seventies when the service connected San Jose with the Venezuelan capital with stops in Panama City, Barranquilla and Maracaibo. When LACSA was purchased by Salvadorian TACA International Airlines, the route was changed to a non-stop flight between the two capitals. Last May Avianca (the Colombian flag carrier that purchased 70% of Grupo TACA) decided to shut down the former LACSA’s hub at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, cancelling the non-stop flights to New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Monterrey, Havana, Quito and Guayaquil. The next route to be cancelled was San Jose-Miami and now “adios Caracas”. Costa Ricans will be forced now to fly via Bogota using the Avianca services or Panama City with COPA Airlines. It is now expected the Costa Rican government and AERIS (the private company that manages the Juan Santamaria International Airport) will request Venezuelan flag carrier CONVIASA to take the route.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–The first LCC (Low Cost Carrier) in Central America, VECA Airlines (Vuelos Economicos Centro Americanos) is expected to start operations very soon. The airline will operate two Airbus A-319s from its hub at Comalapa International Airport of El Salvador to all the Central American capitals and important cities: Guatemala City, San Pedro-Sula, Tegucigalpa, Managua, San Jose and Panama City. VECA Airline is hoping to break the duo-poly of the Central American traffic of both Avianca (former TACA Airlines) and COPA Airlines of Panama. Several former TACA Airlines employees work at VECA Airlines, the new runner up as the Salvadorian flag carrier after the absorption of TACA by the Colombian flag carrier. VECA Airlines is one of the three Central American carriers hoping to take off in 2014. The other two airlines are from Costa Rica: Ticos Air and TIA (Tica Air International) owned by Air Panama. Both projects have been slow to start, and now Costa Rican pubkic opinion is skeptical the airline owned by Gino Renzi (Ticos Air) will ever take off. In the meantime, VECA Airlines is ready for take off.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–Viva Colombia’s Commercial Vice-President William Shaw, declared the airline is analyzing opening flights to the Central American capitals. Shaw attended the ROUTES AMERICAS symposium held at the Sheraton Hotel in the Salvadorian capital. “We are looking into the route to El Salvador or even to have a base in El Salvador”, Shaw declared. “The Central American region really needs a low cost carrier”. El Salvador’s Minister of Tourism, Jose Napoleon Duarte confirmed the negotiations with Viva Colombia are well advanced. Shaw insisted the interest of Viva Colombia for El Salvador is mainly because two things, the great tourist potential the country has and the Salvadorians that live outside their nation, up to 3 million and from those, 2,5 million in the United States. “We still don’t have anything defined, but with the aid of the Minister of Tourism of El Salvador, soon we will be announcing our decision” concluded William Shaw. Viva Colombia announced several months ago its plans to expand to destinations like Panama and Costa Rica. The entrance of Viva Colombia to the market will make the competition fierce between the legacy carriers like Avianca and COPA Airlines, and the low cost carriers like Viva Colombia and Salvadorian start-up VECA Airlines that should start operations in the next months.
BOGOTA, Colombia–“Avianca has decided effective July start flights between Bogota and London non-stop, as part of the new push of our commercial and political relations between the two nations”, informed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. This will be the first Colombian airline to start flights between El Dorado International Airport and Heathrow Airport in the U.K. The airline already operates wide bodied Airbus A-330 from Bogota to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. Avianca will be receiving four Boeing 787 Dreamliner by September 2014, long haul aircraft that will dedicated for the European routes, indicated Fabio Villegas. Frankfurt and Paris are also being considered by the second biggest airline in Latin America. The flights to London will start in July using the wide bodied Airbus A-330. The flight will be fed by Avianca flights from Central America, Mexico, Caribbean and South America into El Dorado for connections to the U.K. London-Heathrow will become an important connecting point for Avianca with other Star Alliance airlines and one in particular, Air India that should become a full member by the end of 2014. The growth of commerce between Latin America and India has been important in the recent years. Another European airline, TAP Portugal announced future services to Bogota (Avianca’s main hub) and Panama City (COPA Airlines main hub) from Lisbon.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The main stockholders of Air Panama, George Novey and Eduardo Stagg have now invested in Costa Rican start-up Tica Air International. Carlos Viquez, the representative of the Costa Rican airline informed that Air Panama will transfer one of its Boeing 737-300 to the start-up for the opening of the route San Jose-Miami (that was abandoned in January by Avianca). “Costa Rica has always been a good place to invest and now more than ever with Avianca’s departure of several non-stop markets” said Eduardo Stagg, CEO of Air Panama. Viquez informed that it is expected for Tica Air International to start operations by December 2014. TAI is the second airline project in Costa Rica, after Gino Renzi’s Ticos Air. Alvaro Vargas, the Civil Aviation board (DGAC) director informed that Ticos Air still has not been able to move to the third phase of its certification, since it has not presented any of the 5 Airbus A-319s that Gino Renzi advised the airline would operate. Rumors in Costa Rica are that Ticos Air still has not been able to secure investors for the project. The advantage that TAI would have is the economic support from Air Panama, the second biggest and most important airline in Panama, that also operates flights to San Jose with a jet Fokker 100. “The idea is that both airlines should grow together, using scale economies”, conmmented Eduardo Stagg. Tica Air International is expected to open flights to Managua, David, Bocas del Toro and San Andres.