Monday 29 May 2023

Increase in private flights makes Costa Rica more attractive for lovers of luxury and adventure

Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber airports report an increase in the arrival of private flights

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QCOSTARICA – Private flights from Japan, Australia and New Zealand have recently arrived in Costa Rica, confirming that the country gaining ground on the radar of the business aviation world and is becoming more accessible to the arrival of foreigners.

Executive jets at the Guanacaste Airport

These are tourists who arrive with the idea of getting to know the Costa Rican paradise that is promoted internationally or come on business, in both cases, they represent a tourist segment to which the country has turned its gaze in recent years: visitors with great purchasing power.

The numbers support this growth in arrivals of international private flights, better known as non-scheduled. Both the Juan Santamaría (SJO) in San Jose and Daniel Oduber (LIR) in Guanacaste, airports have seen an increase in these types of flights during the last two years, after the pandemic, suggesting continued growth.

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Arriving on a private flight, in relation to tourists who take commercial flights, the logistics of the aircraft is the key factor.

Hiring a ground service assistance company or “Ground Handler” is the most important step for the arrival in the country, since these companies coordinate different logistics services.

“The management is very automated or normal in that sense, so that the interested party coordinates through a Costa Rican ground service company that provides that support, requests a space at the airport, for such a date, at such a time, indicates how long you are going to stay in the country and receives the response from the airport operator, a go-ahead so to speak, you have a spot at the airport,” explained Fernando Naranjo, general director of Aviación Civil, Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation.

Pre-takeoff support services, flight support, ground support, and passenger arrangements are part of the services offered by ground assistance and facilitate everything from hotel reservations and ground transportation to special meals for these travelers, depending on the contracted company.

These services can be arranged by the local ground handler or by the operator of the plane, in those cases where the plane is being “rented” for a specific flight and destination and not owned by the user.

Upon arrival at the terminal in Costa Rica, passengers go through a similar process of immigration and customs. What differs from a commercial or “scheduled” flight is the preferential treatment, such as the ground handler staff meeting visitors at plane side, escorting passengers through immigration and customs, and handing them off to awaiting ground transportation.

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At the San Jose airport, the is handled through a private flight terminal, west of the main terminal, with differentiated services for passengers, pilots and aircraft. A similar process is at the Guanacaste airport, the process is similar, though there is no designated terminal.

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“Once the aircraft arrives, the procedures are the same as those followed with any aircraft, people must complete their immigration and customs process, and baggage verification, either in the main terminal or in a terminal designated for this type of aviation when the client wants it that way and pays for that service, which is a differentiated service,” added Naranjo.

“AERIS, manager of the Juan Santamaría Airport, has a genuine commitment to provide optimal conditions to passengers. This goes beyond having adequate amenities for the arrival of commercial flights, but also for executive or business aviation, worthy of the gateway to the pura vida experiences of the country,” said AERIS.

The “domestic” terminal at the San Jose Airport handles private flights arriving and departing
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While the Guanacaste Airport has already announced a million-dollar investment to build its terminal for private jets, due to the increase in visits from tourists with great purchasing power.

“The future hotel investment of five or seven stars, they (tourists) fly on those planes, you have to have space for them and for the crews (…) These people spend three thousand dollars and even more,” said César Jaramillo, general manager from Guanacaste Airport, in a recent interview.

According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board – yes, there is any type of particular strategy to attract private aviation tourists, since they spend more than three times daily than a normal visitor.

“ICT’s promotion and marketing strategies in priority markets are designed to position the country in the segments with the highest purchasing power,” said the ICT in response to the query.

Costa Rica has become a desirable destination for tourism with great purchasing power, either by sea through luxury or expedition cruises, or by air, with the arrival of aircraft from different parts of the planet.

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