New International Airport in Orotina One Step Closer to Reality

Costa Rican government officials announced this morning that the location study and master plan for a new international airport are ready. Carlos Villalta, the head of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (in Spanish, MOPT) and President Luis Guillermo Solís held a press conference at the Jade Museum in San José.

The project’s first phase is expected to begin in 2018, with construction slated for 2022. If all goes according to plan, the airport will be ready in 2027. Mott MacDonald, a British development firm, will be in charge of building the new airport. Phase one is expected to cost nearly $2 billion.

Other Improvements Coming?

Mott MacDonald said that in order for the airport to work correctly, Route 27 will have to be made bigger, Bernardo Soto Highway will have to be improved, and five other national roads will need a series of improvements.

According to the Costa Rican Government’s website, the location study and master plan contain 2,829 pages on 24 technical studies. Some 120 professionals participated in the studies, including 80 Costa Ricans.

Above: This video discusses the history of aviation in Costa Rica and focuses on the new airport in Orotina. Video in Spanish. 

The new airport will include two runways, a new terminal, an “airport city” with hotels, offices, and residences, rental car areas, and access to bus and train transportation.

Why Orotina?

According to the Government’s release, “Orotina offers unique opportunities to develop a project that powers connectivity through infrastructure between ports and airports and economic, urban, and tourist areas. This site is nearly at sea level, which creates aeronautic and commercial advantages. Planes can take off with more paying cargo and reach farther destinations; it’s one of the few sites left with so much flat land and without natural obstacles such as mountains. Additionally, there are no high-rise constructions and the climate is good.”

Currently, the new airport site is comprised of ranchland, crops, cattle farms, and houses.

Do We Need a New Airport?

Once the doors open in 2027, some 7.8 million air passengers are expected at the new airport. Estimates show that over the subsequent years, annual arrivals are expected to be more than 15 million. In 2016, 4.3 million tourists came through Juan Santamaría International Airport, according to Villalta from the MOPT. This year 4.6 million travelers are expected to use the airport as a port of entry.

According to Mauricio Ventura, Minister of  Tourism, “Costa Rica is an incredibly competitive country in tourism. We have witnessed record arrivals from airlines, an increase in available seats, and an increase in the number of visitors. As such, reinforcing our tourism infrastructure with the New Metropolitan International Airport is a project that we applaud from the [Costa Rica Tourism Board] because it represents a guarantee to continue strengthening our top-level tourism destination, to grow exports, and to offer cutting-edge air services.”

The new airport will have four building phases and will be located in the areas of Mastate, Coyolar, and Ceiba in Orotina.

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