Air Costa Rica

Juan Santamaria International Airport of Costa Rica: Second Best

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Juan Santamaria International Airport as #2 after Tocumen Airport.
Juan Santamaria International Airport as #2 after Tocumen Airport.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–During the past 26 years, hundreds of airlines and airports across every continent have benefited from Skytrax Audit and Quality advisory services, as the British audit company has also helped them to improve and develop the customer experience. Recently Skytrax chose the best airports in Latin America (Central America, South America and Caribbean). For the region of Central America and Caribbean the Juan Santamaria International Airport of Alajuela/San Jose is the second best, just after Panama City’s Tocumen. The Panamanian terminal got the awards as the “Best Airport” and the “Best Airport Staff” at the World Airport Awards 2015 ceremony. In the list of the 10 best several Central American airports are also mentioned as Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport of El Salvador and La Aurora International Airport of Guatemala City. None of the airports of Honduras or Belize made the list. The ranking is made up by interviews made to more than 13 million passengers in 550 airports and 112 countries. The interviews evaluate the total experience of the passenger with 39 products and airport service areas like easy access, public transportation, comfort, cleanliness and the personal service offered by the airport employees. (The number in parenthesis indicates the position of the airport).

  1. Tocumen International Airport, Panama City (1)

Until last September 2014 the Panamanian terminal reported passenger traffic of over six million, an increase of 10% compared to 2013. The airport that is serviced by 19 passenger airlines and 14 cargo airlines is going through an expansion with the construction of the South Concourse that should be finished by 2017 putting Tocumen as the most modern airport in the region. The Panamanian terminal has been able to attract several European carriers like Air France, KLM, TAP Portugal and the German carrier Lufthansa which will start flights in November 2015.

  1. Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela/Costa Rica (2)

For mid 2015 the airport that services the Costa Rican capital should have a new commercial area and two additional boarding gates in the Eastern area of the terminal. AERIS, the private company that manages the terminal announced it will build a terminal for domestic flights (SANSA and Nature Air) with full comfort and will be ready by the end of 2016. Still the new construction of the Western area (where the maintenance hangars of COOPESA are located) has not started. The Juan Santamaria International Airport hopes to attract more airlines from Europe and South America in order to compete with the Panamanian airport that is known as the best in the region. It is expected the new start-up Air Costa Rica will use this airport as its main hub.

  1. Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (Comalapa), El Salvador (3)

The big problem that CEPA (the Salvadorian government company that manages the airport) has are funds in order to develop the expansion Master Plan of the airport. The project has been paralyzed for the past two years. The terminal has only a capacity of 1,6 million passengers and its hoped once the expansion is done, the amount of passengers handled can double. At the moment just some small remodeling has been done and airlines like Colombian Avianca that uses the airport as its main Central American hub suffers with almost an operationally collapsed terminal. The airport does not receives a “face lift” since the late 80s. Low cost carrier VECA Airlines uses the airport as its hub.

  1. Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport, Managua (8)

This is the main international airport in Nicaragua and offers non-stop flights to 12 destinations. Panamanian COPA Airlines moves up to 30% of all the air traffic at this terminal. Since 2011 the passenger traffic has been increasing annually at 4,1%. In three years the country will have a new international airport in Rivas that is expected to offer flights to Asia. There is no more Nicaraguan flag carrier, reason why the Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport is not a hub.

  1. La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (10)

Located in Guatemala City’s Zone 13, this airport, once Pan American’s Central American hub has a runway of almost 3000 meters and it was fixed in 2010. Recently a new advanced system of baggage transport and security protection was introduced. The investment was of up to 1,43 million dollars. TAG is the only Guatemalan carrier (as Aviateca was totally absorbed by Avianca) and operates small prop planes from their private hangars, not using the main international terminal.

 

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Spirit Airlines to fly San José-Houston four times per week starting next year

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The U.S. low cost carrier Spirit Airlines said Monday it would open four weekly flights between San José and Houston beginning on May 28, 2015.The airline plans to open the new route to Costa Rica as part of its expansion in Latin America, the company said. Flights will use an Airbus A319 and A320 with the capacity to accommodate 178 passengers. Alberto López, general manager of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), said the carrier’s announcement is important for the country as it will be the first flight of a low-cost airline from the central region of the U.S. to Costa Rica. “Texas is the third largest state where the best traveler prospects for our country live, which means its residents have a high interest in visiting or returning to Costa Rica. This new route and four weekly flights will increase the number of seats available and the number of tourists visiting our country,” López said on Monday evening. ICT studies show that Texas has 2 million residents who could be considered as top prospects for tourism in the region. “Texans are seasoned travelers with high income and higher education levels,” the ICT claims. Official reports also state that during the first nine months of this year, some 740,000 U.S. travelers entered the country by air with a tourist visa. U.S. tourists who entered Costa Rica in 2013 remained on average 10.4 nights and spent an average of $1,232 during their stay. Spirit’s announcement adds to five other airlines that have scheduled new flights to the country. Aeroméxico, JetBlue, Delta Airlines and United Airlines will increase flights to the country’s two international airports, Juan Santamaría, outside the capital, and Daniel Oduber, in Liberia City in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Last week, German carrier Condor started its third weekly flight to Costa Rica, and Cubana Airlines on Sunday resumed nonstop flights to Cuba. Thomson Airways and Southwest Airlines confirmed new flights in 2015, while Turkish Airlines, VECA Airlines and VivaColombia currently are in negotiations for opening routes to Costa Rica in 2015. Also Costa Rican start-up Air Costa Rica should start flights from San Jose to Miami, San Andres Island, Central America and Mexico with two Boeing 737-300s. ICT executives also hope that Spirit Airlines would consider Liberia Airport in the near future from both Ft. Lauderdale and Houston.

Spirit Airlines will start Houston-San Jose on May 2015.
Spirit Airlines will start Houston-San Jose on May 2015.

Costa Rican Airline Requests Operating Permits

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Air Costa Rica is the new brand name of  Tica Air according to the Public Registry of the airline, which has launched the second phase of a certificationn process and expects to receive approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation within four to six months to operate as an international airline. The first stage of the airline’s plans include starting with charter flights to other countries in the region and then opening international routes to the United States, Nicaragua, Panama City and Colombia. Carlos Víquez, the director responsible for the formation of the airline , told El Financiero (EF) that “Civil Aviation now have 10 days to review the technical information provided, as the legal and financial documents have already been accepted. After that period, the government entity will usually provide a list of differences, for which the company has 30 working days to respond. ”  Air Costa Rica is a company whose associates, George Novey and Eduardo Stagg, also own Air Panama. This company has operated since 2006 and has over 300 employees and 18 aircraft. Its core business is domestic flights in Panama and its only international route so far is San Jose. Last February, Stagg informed El Financiero that it was interested in operating a route to Miami from San Jose, taking advantage of the fact that Avianca had left that slot empty after closing the former LACSA hub at Juan Santamaria International Airport.  They have also announced flights to Managua, Panama and San Andrés. Air Costa Rica would operate one of the Boeing 737-300s that Air Panama has purchased. At the moment Air Costa Rica seems to be the most probable Costa Rican carrier to start air services as Ticos Air has not been able to take off and has lost momentum.

Air Panama has two Boeing 737-300s. One will be used by Air Costa Rica.
Air Panama has two Boeing 737-300s. One will be used by Air Costa Rica.