San Jose

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.

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.

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.

The End of an Airline

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica– January 13th, 2014 will mark the official end of an airline. This time is for LACSA (Lineas Aereas Costarricenses S.A.) that was formed by Pan American World Airways in 1945 and was the Costa Rican flag carrier ever since. The airline was owned by the Costa Rican government and domestic investors until 1991 when Federico Bloch from TACA International Airlines purchased it and merged it into the TACA Group. Since  June 1950 LACSA operated a  flight between San Jose (the Costa Rican capital) and the city of Miami. For many years the flight numbers 620 and 621 were used to identify the San Jose-Miami-San Jose run. The route was operated with Curtiss C-46 and later Douglas DC-6B. The airline received its first jetliner, the British BAC-111-400, that was promptly used for the Miami route. Later on LACSA upgraded the fleet to the BAC-111-500 and in 1979 the airline received its first Boeing 727-200 Advanced brand new from the Seattle manufacturer. After LACSA was absorbed by TACA International the flights to Miami changed its recognized flight number, but kept being marketed with the LACSA two letter code: LR. On 2009 the TACA Group was merged into Colombian flag carrier Avianca. In May 2013 Avianca decided to shut down the original LACSA hub at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport, suspending all the non-stop flights from Costa Rica to the United States. The only flight that was kept was the Miami bound flight. In December 2013 Avianca decided to finally suspend the flight, thus ending 64 years of uninterrupted service between the Costa Rican capital and Miami. January 13th will be indeed the end of an airline. RIP.

LACSA operated the Douglas DC-6 from San Jose to Miami with an intermediate stop in Grand Cayman.
In the 1950s LACSA operated the Douglas DC-6 from San Jose to Miami with an intermediate stop in Havana, Cuba.

New Costa Rican Flag Carrier

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Ticos Air will operate a fleet of Airbus A-319s.
Ticos Air will operate a fleet of Airbus A-319s.

SAN JOSE,Costa Rica–In 1945 Pan American World Airways founded LACSA (Lineas Aereas Costarricenses S.A.) that became the Costa Rican flag carrier. For several years LACSA controlled de Costa Rican market (domestic and international) as a true monopoly in the air. In 1992 Costa Rican entrepeneur, Calixto Chaves founded Aero Costa Rica S.A., breaking the monopolistic control of the skies by LACSA. Unfortunatelly the ill-managed airline only survived for five years. LACSA was purchased by the Salvadorian carrier TACA in the early 90s. In 2009 TACA was merged into the Colombian airline Avianca, thus ending the once proud Costa Rican flag carrier. But good news were given by Gino Renzi, the CEO of an airline founded in December 2012 as Ticos Air. In October 2013 Renzi announced Ticos Air would start services first quarter of 2014. Ticos Air will become the new flag carrier of Costa Rica. With a fleet of 5 Airbus A-319s the airline will operate from San Jose to Miami, Newark, Mexico City, Caracas and Havana.

The “Heart of Central America”

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Juan Santamaria International Airport is one of the connecting hubs of Avianca and TACA.
Juan Santamaria International Airport is one of the connecting hubs of Avianca and TACA.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica. —  Located in the center of the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica is often called “The Heart of the Region”. The country is the power house of tourism and Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) that services San Jose/Alajuela is also located in the center of the nation. Since the privatization of the management of the terminal, the Juan Santamaria International Airport has become one of the most modern airport terminals in Latin America. It is one of the main important hubs of TACA Airlines (soon AVIANCA) and it is serviced by many airlines from the United States: American Airlines from Miami and Dallas, DELTA Airlines from Atlanta, United Airlines from Houston and Newark, US Airways from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix, jetBlue from Orlando, Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale and Frontier Airlines from Denver.In July DELTA Airlines will start daily non-stop from Los Angeles, jetBlue from Fort Lauderdale and United Airlines will start Saturday operations from Chicago and Washington-Dulles. Canadian carriers include Air Canada and Air Transat, Mexican carriers include AeroMexico and Interjet. IBERIA Airlines operates daily A-340-600 non-stop flights from Madrid and German carrier Condor twice weekly flights from Frankfurt. For 2013 and 2014 more airlines are expected to start operations and some names include Southwest/Air Tran Airways, Alaska Airlines and even an Asian carrier. AERIS is the private company that manages and administrates the airport, now considered the hub of Central America.

Southwest Airlines looking south?

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica. — It is now a common rumor that Southwest Airlines/Air Tran Airways will start flight services to several Latin American cities from their Houston-Hobby airport hub. The first country they are supposedly looking into is Costa Rica. The most popular leisure destination in Central America has two international airports, Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) that services the capital city and Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste, the gateway to the “Golden Coast” of Costa Rica. It is expected that SWA will announce the services for the high season of 2013-2014.

Low Cost Carrier Southwest Airlines is expected to start services to Costa Rica with Boeing 737-500.
Low Cost Carrier Southwest Airlines is expected to start services to Costa Rica with Boeing 737-500.