Central American Domestic Airlines

Tica Air International

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Carlos Viquez is the representative of Tica Air International.
Carlos Viquez is the representative of Tica Air International.

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.

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Political Promise: Limon International Airport

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Johnny Araya Monge, the presidential candidate of the National Liberation Party (PLN) promised if he wins the elections in Costa Rica next February 2nd, to construct a new airport for the caribbean port city of Limon.  In 1974 the Costa Rican Government opened the Limon Airport close to the Caribbean Sea. Domestic airlines in Costa Rica (LACSA, Aerovias Cariari, AVE, SANSA and later Nature Air) operated flights from San Jose to Limon, but no international flights have ever used the terminal that uses the IATA code LIO. The other provincial airport in Guanacaste (Liberia International Airport) which was also opened in 1974 became an international airport in 2001 when Delta Airlines started its non-stop Atlanta-Liberia non-stop run. The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia has helped the development of tourism in the region and it is exactly what  the politicians and the tourism industry requires for the Limon Province, the poorest of Costa Rica but one with rich Afro-Caribbean culture and folklore, white sandy beaches and the beginning of a coral reef that goes all the way north to the Yucatan Peninsula. A new international airport for Limon is the newest political promise, but one that is a real need for the province.

Limon International Airport has no scheduled domestic or international services.
Limon International Airport has no scheduled domestic or international services.

2025: Central American Mega-Worldport

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SAN JOSE,Costa Rica–By 2025 Costa Rica should have it’s new airport to service San Jose and the Central Valley. This would be the third airport (La Sabana Airport inside the city served until the 1950s when the El Coco Airport, today Juan Santamaria International Airport took over). The new mega airport will be constructed in the region of Orotina, on the Pacific Coast of the country. The project is to construct a Central American Mega-Worldport that could connect the “heart” of Central America with the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Juan Santamaria International Airport (MROC) is today the second busiest airport in Central America after Panama’s Tocumen International Airport, but still Costa Rica is the power house of tourism in the region. The new Orotina International Airport will compete with Tocumen (that has had several terminal expansion) and El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport (Avianca’s Central American hub) that should be upgraded in starting this year. The Orotina International Airport will double in size in comparison to Juan Santamaria, will have two runways and a super terminal that could accomodate several airliners including the Airbus A-380s, A-350s and Boeing’s 747-800s, 777s and the 787s Dreamliners.  Juan Santamaria International Airport would be used as a regional airport for Central American flights, charters and executive airplanes. AERIS is the private company that manages the Juan Santamaria International Airport unil 2021. Its expected that the construction and management of the new Orotina International Airport will be handled by a private company.

The new Orotina International Airport will have two extended runways at sea level.
The new Orotina International Airport will have two extended runways at sea level.

Honduran Airline to Guatemala City

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras–Regional Honduran Airline AEROLINEAS SOSA is expanding its network to neighboring Guatemala operating its only jet, a Bombardier CRJ-100. The airline operates mainly as a domestic airline in Honduras, serving Tegucigalpa, Sam Pedro-Sula, La Ceiba, Brus Laguna, Puerto Lempira, the Bay Islands (Roatan, Utila and Guanaja) and their only international flight to George Town in Grand Cayman. Their fleet is composed of 4 LET L-410 UVP, 2 BAe Jetstream 31s, 2 Saab 340 and 1 Britten-Norman Islander. The airline sports a blue and white livery and the Honduran flag on the tail, as one time now defunct flag carriers TAN and SAHSA used to have. In all Central America the existing small airlines are expanding its route structures (Air Panama, TAG of Guatemala and now Aerolineas Sosa) and in other countries start-ups (El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua) could be partly after Avianca’s take-over of Central American airline TACA.

Aerolineas Sosa second international destination will be Guatemala City.
Aerolineas Sosa second international destination will be Guatemala City.

Ticos Air hiring personnel in Costa Rica

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Ticos Air will operate the Airbus A-319s.
Ticos Air will operate the Airbus A-319s.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The recently formed Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, is searching for personnel to fill several administrative and technical posts. Marketing Manager Daniel Gil said the new company plans to hire 120 employees, who will join 22 current workers to launch the airline’s operations. Gil said the company expects to begin operating its first flights in early 2014.Ticos Air provided the Civil Aviation Administration in Costa Rica (DGAC in spanish)  with the required documentation for operating permits last June. The airline will operate five Airbus 319 aircraft, and the first destinations are Mexico City, Caracas, New York and Miami.The company formed in December 2012, and has since been establishing offices in San José, hiring workers, buying planes, and conducting other preparations. TACA Airlines’ decision last May to drop five non-stop flights to Costa Rica from the United States and other countries created a market opportunity for Ticos Air and other international airlines. TACA Airlines also laid off 261 employees (pilots, flight attendants and operations) from its Costa Rica operations as part of an integration process with Colombian flag carrier airline Avianca. The airline’s website, www.ticosair.com, is currently under construction. Ticos Air will try to fill the vacuum left after the demise of Aero Costa Rica S.A. in 1997 and the full absortion of LACSA by TACA Airlines and later in 2009 by Avianca. The airline will use Juan Santamaria International Airport as its hub but it is also expected the airline will operate to Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste.

A Close Call

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LA FORTUNA, Costa Rica–January 2nd was a close call for several passengers on board Costa Rican domestic carrier Nature Air’s DHC-6 Twin Otter (registration TI-BFN) that crashed landed at La Fortuna landing strip. The flight originated in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose and was normal until the arrival in this town north of the country and gateway to the popular Arenal Volcano. Fortunately no one was injured but the airplane suffered damages to its structure. It is not clear if it will be a total loss. Nature Air is Costa Rica’s second domestic carrier (even though it operates two international flights to Managua, Nicaragua and Bocas del Toro, Panama). The airline operates old Canadian de Havilland DHC-6s and has been under scrutiny for safety reasons. The authorities of the Costa Rican Civil Aviation Board (DGAC in Spanish) will investigate in detail the unfortunate incident of January 2nd.

Nature Air's DHC-6 crashed landed in La Fortuna. Fortunatelly no injuries this time.
Nature Air’s DHC-6 crashed landed in La Fortuna. Fortunately no injuries this time.

Central American Airport Competition

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The year 2014 will be the year of airport competition in Central America. As Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport attracts more airlines (the latest are Air France and TAP Portugal), the rest of the Central American airports will gear up to compete for the “second position”. San Jose’s  Juan Santamaria International Airport (probably the most modern of the region) suffered in May the unfortunate dismantling of old LACSA’s  hub. Juan Santamaria International Airport (JSIA) is just another point-to-point station in the Avianca route system, as practically all U.S. non-stop operations were transferred to El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport. But AERIS, the private company that manages JSIA is focusing in 2014 to attract new airlines from South America, Europe, Russia and even Asia. AERIS will start the second phase of its expansion that includes several more gates that can handle wide-body aircraft like Airbus A-340-600 and B-747. The gate area will grow double in space by 2017. JSIA will become the hub for Costa Rican start-up Ticos Air.  CORIPORT S.A., the company that manages the other Costa Rican international terminal, Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport  in the Guanacaste province hopes to also attract new customers like Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. The Honduran government is hoping to jump start the project for Tegucigalpa’s new international airport in Palmerola, in order to finally shut down the second most dangerous airport in the world: Toncontin. The government in Tegucigalpa hopes  also to upgrade the infraestructure of San Pedro-Sula, Roatan Island and La Ceiba Airports. Managua’s Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport and Belize City International Airport at the moment have no expansion projects. In 2014 El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport will see the start of  construction. CEPA (the government agency that manages the airport) hopes to turn the air terminal in the most modern airport in Central America. The new Salvadorian low cost carrier VECA Airlines has chosen Comalapa International Airport to be its main hub.

Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport is one of the most under used terminals of the region.
Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport is one of the most under used terminals of the region.

 Finally the Guatemalan government hopes to bring more airline clients to the modern La Aurora International Airport that after its remodeling is totally under used. The growth of tourism in the area will be the trigger for the international airports to modernize and expand.