Correction: The length of the extention was corrected from 100 feet to 100 yards.

The tradition of seeing planes take off and land at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport will soon come to an end, with the extension of the runway.

The work for the expansion of the runway is being carried out on the south side of the Autopista General Cañas, at the east end of the airport. Foto: Shirley Vásquez.

Though less now than in the past, particularly on Sundays, entire families gather at the east end of the runway, separated by a chain link fence, to watch the airplanes come and go.

In the coming months, all that will only be a memory.

Work on the extension of the runway, as well as the construction of a safety zone, began about a month ago. The change also involves access to Ojo de Agua community and San Antonio de Belen, that is the right turn from the eastbound lanes of the General Cañas, now at end of the runway will also be eliminated.

The brown areas are the changes: 1, 2 & 3 new gates and expansion to the arrivals and departures levels; 4 location of X block (currently the location of Coopesa); 5 the new taxiway; and 6 the runway expansion and safety zone

The extension of the runway is 90 meters (almost 100 yards), explained Rolando Richmond, deputy director of Aviación Civil (Civil Aviation).

According to Richmond, in addition to the additional runway, there will be 60 meters safety zone.

For the changes, access to ruta 122 will be near the toll booths.

Foto: Shirley Vásquez.

In addition, the road where the La Candela restaurant was, on the south side of the runway, will become a taxiway for airplanes. The taxiway will allow large aircraft to be positioned while preparing for takeoff, without affecting airport operations.

New Gates

In addition to the road work outside the airport, changes are also happening within the terminal.

A V-block is being added to the west of the terminal, that will include two new gates and bridges.

That block also includes a third floor with a commercial area, where a VIP area could eventually be located.


Expansion of the terminal building is being carried out at the west end of the terminal: Foto Aviacion Civil

The deputy director of Aviación said that in the case of the so-called V-block, the work should be completed by the end of this year, while the extension of the runway and taxiway should be completed in the first quarter of 2019.


Richmond added that there will also be an expansion of the departures level airline counters and the construction of a new luggage carousel at the arrivals level below.

The next stage in the improvements of the country’s main international airport is the construction of an X Block where the Cooperative of Aero-industrial Services R. L. (Coopesa)  – the aircraft maintenance hangar west of the terminal), -are currently located.

This work is scheduled to be carried out between January and December of 2020, however, it depends on the relocation of Coopesa facilities for which there is no set date yet.

Currently, the San Jose airport has 11 gates with contact bridges to airplanes and five remote gates where people are moved to and from aircraft in minibuses.

The investment to update the Juan Santamaría Airport is US$100 million over 2 years, all part of the improvements incorporated in the update of the master plan by the manager of the terimaaal, Aeris Holding Costa Rica.