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.
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.
QUITO, Ecuador–Ecuadorian flag carrier TAME has informed that in April, it will start Quito-Fort Lauderdale-Quito flights. This will be the second U.S. gateway for TAME (the airline already operates to New York-JFK). Fernando Guerrero, the General Manager of the airline is revamping its schedule, hoping to convert Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport in a connecting hub. The flights from Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Lima will easily connect in Quito to New York-JFK, Fort Lauderdale and Havana, Cuba. The airline also analyzes if to suspend its flights to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport for six months as load factors are around 50%. Also TAME has a code sharing agreement with the Panamanian airline COPA Airlines. Guerrero is planning to adjust TAME’s actual structure to the growth the airline has had in the last years, becoming the most important carrier of the country. At the moment more international routes are just in planning analysis like Quito-San Jose, Costa Rica. Last May Avianca’s TACA Airlines suspended its operations connecting the Ecuadorian capital with San Jose opening the opportunity for TAME’s operation to the Costa Rican capital.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MIAMI, Florida–When the Avianca Airbus landed last January 13th in Miami International Airport, more than half a century (64 years to be exact) of air history came to an end. Finally LACSA Airlines in no more. When in 2009 Avianca and TACA Airlines decided to merge, the latter’s Costa Rican hub (once developed by LACSA Airlines since the 1980s) run the chance of being shut versus TACA’s El Salvador and Lima hubs and of course Avianca’s at El Dorado in Bogota. LACSA’s San Jose hub was developed since 1979 when the then Costa Rican flag carrier expanded its service to New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando and Toronto in North America and Bogota, Lima, Quito, Guayaquil, Rio, Sao Paulo in South America. At that time LACSA’s slogan was: “Uniendo las Tres Americas” (Uniting the three Americas). Now Costa Ricans travelling to South America should use Avianca’s Bogota hub and for North America, the hub at El Salvador International Airport. Everybody hopes the vaccum left by Avianca would be filled up by the new Costa Rican airline Ticos Air that is expected to start flights on the first semester of 2014 with Airbus A-319s to cities like Miami, Los Angeles and New York.
TELA BAY, Honduras–On March 15th, the deluxe Indura Beach & Golf Resort will open in Tela Bay on the northern coast of Honduras. Just 50 minutes north of San Pedro-Sula International Airport, Indura is the first five star resort in the Central American country. The name of the resort is the translation of “Honduras” in the garifuna language and will feature a state-of-the-art golf course designed by Gary Player. A unique golf course surrounded by native mangroves and palm trees, local flora and fauna, and spectacular views of the Caribbean coastline. Dotting a lush tropical landscape the 60 junior suites are scattered in 15 villas that are interconnected by footpaths that meander to a pristine beach. The design incorporates the liberal use of local Honduran products and sustainable materials, including bamboo floors, walls of local pine, San Juan wood doors and decorative accents of Guanacaste wood. Anchored in the culinary traditions of Honduras, dining at Indura Beach & Golf Resort will be a relaxing, authentic experience that pairs indigenous ingredients grown on the property with local fare prepared with recipes and techniques borrowed from the Garifuna and South American cultures. The resulting dishes capture the essence of this corner of paradise while still remaining flavorful and familiar. The first of its kind in Honduras, the spa will be a reflection of an immersion in the culture of Honduras, both in design and development of treatments. A philosophy in tune with nature’s elements, Maina will be a sanctuary of relaxed simplicity designed around fragrant and serene water gardens. Gentle sea breezes will pass through private spa “casitas” capturing the essence of local flora while sunlight and shadows play lightly throughout the space. An outdoor lifestyle is fostered in the relaxation areas comprised of terraces, balconies and pools. Guests of Indura Beach & Golf Resort will be able to enjoy the resort but also the picturesque Jeannette Kawas National Park, a treasure trove of beaches, wetlands, tropical forests, coral reefs and lagoons and the Laguna de los Micos and the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens plus one-day tours to the Copan Archaeological Park. Even though the Honduran government plans to upgrade Tela Bay Airport, the best way to reach the resort from the U.S. will be using San Pedro-Sula’s International Airport that is serviced by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Avianca.