Mauro Nogarin presents a round-up of recent news and views on South American airports.
According to the latest report by the Airports Council International (ACI), there was an increase in air traffic in South America and the Caribbean in 2010. International passenger traffic increased 8.4% to 116 million passengers and domestic passenger traffic increased by 15.6% to 272 million passengers in the region’s 263 airports. Total passenger traffic in the region was 403 million passengers – a 13.2% increase over the previous year. Total aircraft movements were up by 7% with a total of 7.6 million registered in 2010.
Among the 19 countries in the region, Brazil was the leader, reaching 7th place in the world rankings with a 20.8% increase in passengers serviced. Brazil is making large investments in its 13 international airports in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup in 2014, clearly showing it is trying to meet the challenge and achieve a world-class standard of service.
At the other end of the scale is Mexico, which continues to lose its share of international tourism due to its problems with security; however, its airports have not lagged behind and are continually modernising their infrastructure. Most of them are privately managed.
In Bolivia, after a decade without any significant investments, the government has decided to rectify the situation by launching a transformation of the national airport network in an attempt to capture a greater share of the international tourism market.
Ezeiza International Airport’s (EZE) new Terminal C, opened in July 2011, required 19 months of work and an investment of US$142 million – and has proved to be a ‘mega-project’ of design, infrastructure, technology and use of modern security systems in operations and prevention.
The terminal has a surface of 226,000sq ft (21,000m2), eight loading ramps, 2,500 parking spaces, new baggage handling equipment, ten x-ray scanners and 12 immigration stations. The development also boasts a 600-plus seating capacity in the pre-boarding waiting areas, a new off-ramp on the Ricchieri freeway leading directly to the cargo terminal and a modern ‘intelligent’ system for fires and emergencies.
The project is part of an ambitious development initiative aimed at both passengers and cargo volumes. As Argentina’s largest international airport, EZE hopes to handle 13 million passengers and realise 90,000 operations per year by the scheme’s completion in 2013. By then, it aims to have 2,002,100sq ft (186,000m2) of floor space, 21 loading ramps, 4,800 parking spaces and 200 check-in counters. Ezeiza can currently handle 8.8 million passengers per annum.
Another major building project in Argentina is the new Rio Hondo Airport (RHD), in the Santiago del Estero province, which will meet the high demand created by tourists visiting this city every year for its thermal baths. The design will reportedly allow two large-body jets, such as the Boeing B737-700, to operate simultaneously. It also aims to have a 28,000sq ft (2,600m2) apron, two boarding areas, a security operations area and facilities for emergency services. Airport operator Aeropuertos Argentinos 2000 (AA2000) is spending US$2.5 million to provide the region with the new, modernised airport. The development is being completed in stages in order to avoid affecting operations at the airport and quality of service. The first stage of construction was due to be completed as this issue went to press, while the rest of project is expected to be finished in February 2012.
Earlier this year, AA2000 announced the expansion of the Cordoba International Airport Ingeniero Aeronáutico Ambrosio LV Tavarella’s (COR) terminal, at a cost of $20 million. The refurbished facility, when finished, will offer six gates, four with boarding platforms and two remote. This new configuration will allow for future expansion in anticipation of increased air traffic. The upgrade includes a 129,167sq ft (12,000m2) surface area – 23,680sq ft (2,200m2) will be remodelled and the perimeter walls will be expanded. In addition, nine boarding gates will be installed. New offices are planned and 62,430sq ft (5,800m2) of platform surface area will be reconfigured.
The Bolivian government has a new master plan of eleven projects for modernising the country’s airports. This major investment over the next four years will include six airports for tourist destinations and five international hubs. The goal of the expansion is to promote tourism and commerce and provide transportation alternatives to the local populations in some of the most remote areas of the country. The refurbished international airports are being built in Cobija (Pando), Chimore (Cochabamba), Oruro, Alcantari (Chuquisaca) and Uyuni (Potosí) – at a cost of US$144 million.
In July 2011, Bolivia’s Ministry of Public Works inaugurated the airport at Uyuni (built at 12,467ft [3,800m] above sea level) with a landing strip of 13,123ft (4,000m). This first phase of the project cost US$13 million. The second will cost an additional US$6 million to install a modern communications and illumination system in order to allow night-time landings.
Although final details have not yet been released, the new development in Oruro – at 11,811ft (3,600m) above sea level – is due to be completed by the end of April 2012. The project includes extending the tarmac from 9,186ft (2,800m) to 13,123ft (4,000m) in length.
The renovation of the airport in Bolivia’s legal capital, Sucre, will take around three years and an investment of US$54 million. It is due to be completed in May 2014. The landing strip is being expanded to 11,811ft (3,600m) in length with a width of 147ft (45m). The terminal building will be 230ft (70m) by 722ft (220m).
The National Civil Aeronautical Service (DINAC) announced in June that renovation of the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Paraguay’s capital, Asunción, had been approved. The refurbishment will upgrade security to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. The air traffic control centre has already been unveiled; its objective is to establish complete coverage of the air space through voice communication and data from Level 50 through repeater stations linked to satellites, and the use of fibre optics and the Aircon 2100 system. DINAC acquired the equipment at a cost of US$17 million.
The North Central Airport Operator Airplan (OACNA) has completed the second phase of modernisation work on five airports in Colombia. During this stage, the airports were equipped with updated communications equipment: this task included rewiring the facilities, installing wireless services, new security systems for screening passengers and baggage, new state-of-the-art conveyor belts for baggage handling, a closed circuit television system, a new fire detection system, intruder alarms and new boarding ramps.
Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) and José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) will have a shared check-in system for airlines in which carriers’ needs can be programmed into the counters. Eleven boarding gates were installed at MDE, in Rionegro, at a cost of US$6 million. The remodelling and modernisation of the passenger terminal has been completed, as have the exterior works such as the boarding ramps and the expansion of the west-side terrace.
The total investments made by Airplan to date exceed US$96.5 million. A further US$150 million investment is expected by the end of the year.
Infraero, the largest airport operator in Brazil, has announced a new strategic plan for modernisation and capacity expansion. This will be enforced in the 12 cities where the FIFA World Cup will be played in 2014. Total investment will be over US$3 billion.
The Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo is currently being extended; two landing strips are being refurbished and a new landing strip is being built for the exclusive use of air taxis. A platform for a third passenger terminal is also being built. The expansion will increase the surface area of the terminals from 1,891,219sq ft (175,700m2) to 3,120,458sq ft (289,900m2) and it is hoped that passenger capacity will increase from 24.9 million in 2010 to 52.7 million passengers per year in 2014.
At the Galeão Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) in Rio de Janeiro, two new operational modules are being installed and Terminals 1 and 2 are being restructured, with completion due between July and October 2013. The improvements plan to increase passenger capacity from the current 17.4 million to 44 million passengers per year.
A complete remodelling of the passenger terminal at the Brasilia International Airport (BSB) is contemplated in the investment project. This would consist of extending the floor space from 1,948,268sq ft (181,000m2) to 4,337,856sq ft (403,000m2) in 2014. A new operational module will purportedly be ready in December 2011. BSB will expand its passenger capacity from 14 million passengers per year in 2010 to 26.5 million in 2014.
Other projects include: construction of a new landing strip at the developing São Gonçalo do Amarante Airport; the installation of a new operational module at the airport in Campinas; construction of a new aircraft storage area at the airport in Parnaíba; expansion of the passenger terminal in Curitiba; and development of a new cargo terminal at the airport in Porto Alegre which is due to be completed in 2013.
The New Quito International Airport in Ecuador’s capital is currently 84% completed and is scheduled to be inaugurated in October 2012. The 13,451ft (4,100m) runway has already been paved with two coats of asphalt and the passenger terminal is under construction, as are the aircraft boarding platforms.
The structural steel girders for the construction of the cargo building and the maintenance hangar have been completed and ground has been prepared for construction of the catering building and ground services building. The control tower is also well under way, as is the illumination of the landing strips and the drainage system.
The Public Works Ministry in Chile has approved the financing for the expansion and improvement of the Cerro Moreno airport in Antofagasta, which is scheduled for completion by 2014. The cost of this project will be US$30 million and includes a fourth boarding platform. The project will also expand the area of the passenger terminal from 80,729sq ft (7,500m2) to 102,257sq ft (9,500m2). A new access road is also among the improvements planned for the airport.
As one of the most important in the country, this particular terminal currently sees 500,000 passengers per year. New buildings are planned for the fire (SEI) and emergency services (SAR). The development also includes a new parking area for aircraft, new lighting for the runways, a new road from the SEI headquarters to the runways, widening of runways and construction of an access road, landscaping, automatic sprinkler system, pedestrian walkways, kennels, a waste water treatment system, a security fence around the perimeter of the airport and painting of the exterior and control tower.
Another important remodelling project is the Las Marías Airport in Valdivia. The ministry will invest US$2 million for substantial improvements to the airport’s infrastructure. The goal is to develop it as a strategic air terminal, after years of neglect and abandonment, and transform it into a military and civilian air terminal with a capacity for emergency medical assistance flights. The investment will be made in two separate contracts: the first is to remodel the passenger terminal, which is receiving an investment of US$90,000 this year and another US$1 million in 2012; the second is for improving the runways, at a cost of US$300,000 this year followed by an additional investment of US$230,000 in 2012.
The cost of modernising Peru’s Pisco Airport (PIO) will be around US$45 million. The work will be done by an international consortium and will include the building of a new passenger and cargo terminal, parking facilities and area for servicing airplanes. There are plans for a surface area of 371,355sq ft (34,500m2). The consortium will invest over US$40 million to build a first-rate airport terminal which will complement the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. It is hoped the new development will increase tourism to Ica and connect Cusco and Arequipa. It will also offer an alternative landing site for airlines that cannot use Lima, as well as for low-cost charter flights.
Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport (CUZ) in Cusco saw the modernisation of its equipment in May 2011, at a cost of US$4 million. Other approved projects by Corpac, the main airport operator in Peru, include the expansion of the passenger terminal in Huanuco Airport and the construction of a new control tower at Puerto Maldonado International Airport.
With the construction of its second runway, the Toluca International Airport (TLC) has become a more important facility due to its strategic location near Mexico City. It is currently ranked in fifth place in the nation, with 4.4 million passengers per year and an average of 350 air operations per day.
Meanwhile, construction on the new US$60 million terminal at Palenque International Airport began in mid-2011 and is due for completion after a year. The facility will be on 1,208 acres (489ha), valued at US$12 million. The project includes a passenger terminal, exterior works, support buildings, structures to meet ecological standards, landscaping and outfitting of the terminal and fuelling areas.
The Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) expansion project began in October 2010 and was due for completion as this issue went to press, with a total cost of US$35 million. The airport is located in the province of Guanacaste and covers an area of 183 acres (74ha). The two-storey passenger terminal building has an area of 247,570sq ft (23,000m2), with four loading ramps and three remote boarding locations. The new terminal will be able to handle 1,500 passengers per hour at peak times.
Nicaragua’s new investment plan for airport infrastructure includes building a new airport with a 4,921ft (1,500m) landing strip on the Island of Ometepe, a popular tourist destination, as part of the Nicaraguan government’s strategy to promote tourism as a means of reducing poverty. The plan involves spending US$25 million to build three new international airports in total. The terminal building for Ometepe, costing of US$7million, is due for completion in early 2012. There have been reports that Costa Rican-based airline Liberia has already expressed interest in establishing services to the island.
The government also has plans to build a 4,921ft (1,500m) runway in Greytown, located in the Rio San Juan department near the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica, with an investment of US$13 million.
In addition to these new developments, the airport at Punta Huete, in San Francisco Libre on the north shore of Lake Xolotlan, is being refurbished.
Cuban tour operator Havanatur Celimar recently announced that flights to the country’s airports from the US would be increased. It was claimed that the terminals in Santa Clara and Manzanillo will now also receive direct flights from the US in addition to the existing airports of La Habana, Cienfuegos, Camagüey, Holguín and Santiago. The United States has recently authorised a number of airports to host direct flights to Cuba.
The main airport operator, AIES, which has A1 certification from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, recently announced financing for a new project to install an instrument landing system (ILS), donated by COCESNA (the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services), at the El Salvador International Airport (SAL). The development includes the installation of the necessary channels and cables, as well as providing the electric power to operate it. This will require the construction of an electricity sub-station. The ILS system is due to be operational by the end of 2011.
Mauro Nogarin presents a round-up of recent news and views on South American airports.