Monday 27 March 2023

50 years ago: Juan Santamaría Airport reported 79 daily flights

The Juan Santamaría International (San Jose) Airport was once the busiest airport in Central America

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TODAY COSTA RICA – Original text published by La Nación on July 17, 1972.

According to the operations studies carried out by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, during the month of June, a total of 79 daily national and international flights were made.

General view of the work being carried out to expand the runway at the Juan Santamaría International Airport.

The Directorate reported that 2,377 operations were recorded that month (1,185 landings and 1,192 takeoffs).

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As far as landings are concerned, 469 correspond to international flights and 716 to national flights, which translates to 79.2 operations per day. Meanwhile, at the Tobías Bolaños Airport, in Pavas, 6,413 operations were carried out, with an average of 213.4 each day, corresponding mostly to training flights carried out by aviation academies.

Regarding (airport) improvement works, the Directorate indicated that with the advice of the United States Air Force, steps were taken to acquire communications equipment for both airports, which were accepted by the Comptroller General of the Republic.

In addition, new equipment was received for the construction and improvement of airports that already operates both in Santamaría, as well as in other aerodromes in the interior of the country, where important improvements that La Nación previously announced were perceived.



The San Jose (SJO) airport, located in the province of Alajuela, was built to replace the previous one in downtown San Jose where Parque La Sabana is located today.

Funding was secured by the government in 1951 and construction proceed slowly until it was officially inaugurated on May 2, 1958, initially called “Aeropuerto Internacional el Coco”.

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It would later be renamed in honor of Juan Santamaría, Costa Rica’s national hero, who died in 1856 defending his country against forces led by American filibuster William Walker.

In 1961, funding was secured to build the highway that connects the airport to downtown San José.

The Juan Santamaría International Airport was once the busiest airport in Central America, but currently, it is ranked second after Tocumen International Airport (PYTY), in Panamá.

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