Preliminary design of the new international airport. Source: Aviación Civil
Preliminary design of the new international airport. Source: Aviación Civil

If all goes according to plan, the San José international airport will be located in Orotina, some 40 kilometres west of the current international airport.

The planning for the new airport is expected to begin next year. Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation (the Dirección General de Aviación Civil) informs that the hiring of the expert will be in early 2014 and be responsible for proposing the most viable land for the new international airport

Aviation’s director, Alvaro Vargas, explained there are three potential sites in Orotina. The hired expert will be resonsible for recommending the best site.

The initial plan for the new airport is for two runways and twice the number of gates of th current. The plan also includes train transportation to and from the airport and San José

The Juan Santamaría international airport, named after Costa Rica’s national hero, Juan Santamaría, replaced the previous one in downtown San Jose where Parque La Sabana is located today.

Aerial view of the San José airport
Aerial view of the San José airport

No major changes were made to the terminal until November 1997 when the government issued a decree requesting participation of private companies to manage the operations of the airport.[

After a few years of legal challenges and contract negotiations Alterra Partners was given a 20 year concession and started

managing the facilities in May 2001.[ It was also expected that the company would finish the necessary expansion and construction of new facilities, however in March 2002 Alterra announced it would cease any further construction due to disagreements over financing and airport use fee billing with the government.

The dispute was extended for a few years and problems started at the terminal; in 2005 the International Civil Aviation Organization pointed out that the airport did not comply with safety regulations.

In July 2009 Alterra yielded the contract to a consortium composed of Houston-based Canadian-American company ADC & HAS and the Brazilian company, Andrade Gutierrez Concessores (AGC) – subsidiary of the conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez. In December 2009 Alterra Partners changed its name to AERIS Holdings, S.A. In November 2010 Aeris announced it had finished the expansion and construction of new facilities with the installation of the 9th boarding bridge.

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Check-in counters in the main terminal of the Juan Santamaría International airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Costa Rica, having experienced a constant increase in traffic since its opening in 1958, boosted by the growing flow of tourists. The airport reached the million passenger for the first time in 1991, and it has been serving more than four million passengers yearly since 2007.