San Jose airport was closed after 4:00pm Thursday and remained closed until 8:00am Friday, due to the presence of ash from the Turrialba volcano eruption Thursday afternoon
San Jose airport was closed after 4:00pm Thursday and remained closed until 8:00am Friday, due to the presence of ash from the Turrialba volcano eruption Thursday afternoon

TICO BULL – The closure of the San José (Juan Santamaria – SJO) international airport due to the volcanic ash from the Turrialba has caused many to ask the question, why not divert flights to Liberia (LIR)?

The problems for doing so, to the best of my understanding, are as such:

  1. The Liberia airport cannot handle the volume of flights and passengers at any one time
  2. Liberia is 3/4 hours away from San José, the logistics of transferring thousands to San José, I believe are not within any contingency plane (if any plan does exist).
  3. I don’t believe there are enough hotel rooms around the airport to accommodate the number of passengers arriving at night.
  4. International aviation rules don’t permit an airline landed in Liberia to then transfer them to the San Jose airport. Normally, any flight diverted to Liberia is for a temporary situation, the airplane sits on the tarmac (with all the passengers) waiting on clearance from San José.

In the situation like last night (Thursday, March 12), when the closure of the San Jose airport is for an extended time, Panama City (Panama) is the best solution for flights already on route to Costa Rica.

There is the option of Managua, about the same flying time as Panama, but I have never heard of a flight diverted to Nicaragua. In the situation of last night, flights headed to Costa Rica not having departed were grounded.

If anyone has a better understanding of this, please use the comment sections below or email me.


Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.