Belize City

Southwest Airlines first Central American destination

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Southwest Airlines inaugural flight arrives in San Jose, Costa Rica, welcomed with the traditional water cannons.
Southwest Airlines inaugural flight arrives in San Jose, Costa Rica, welcomed with the traditional water cannons.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–March 7th marks the arrival of Southwest Airlines first flight into Central America. WN-602 from Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport arrived ontime to Alajuela’s Juan Santamaria International Airport full of American tourists hoping to enjoy the balmy weather of the hottest destination in Central America. Effective today, Southwest Airlines will operate daily flights from the BWI airport into Costa Rica. By November Southwest Airlines will also operate flights from Houston-Hobby International Airport to Costa Rica and also Belize, the second destination in Central America. Southwest is the latest LCC to open operations to Costa Rica (Interjet, Spirit Airlines, Frontier, jetBlue, Sun Country, Westjet, Rouge, Airtransat, and Sunjet already operate to San Jose or Liberia). It is expected that other LCC like Volaris of Mexico, Viva Colombia and GOL and Azul from Brazil could start flights into Costa Rica in the near future.

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.