Not Good For Costa Rica’s Tourism Image!

Pothole repair on the runway at the Liberia airport shuts down operations, forcing diversion of tourist loaded planes, some having their vacations canceled while in flight


Rico’s TICO BULL – Earlier this month, on Saturday, June 8 operations at the Daniel Oduber Quiros international airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste, was shut down for several hours.

The repair of the pothole on the runway forced the Liberia airport to be shut down for some 5 hours on Saturday, June 8

The closure, as explained by the deputy director of Civil Aviation, Álvaro Vargas, was due to “the detachment of the asphalt layer from the airport runway”.

In other words, a POTHOLE on the runway.


Potholes in Costa Rica’s roads are nothing new. Years back I had t-shirts made “I survived the potholes of Costa Rica” for souvenirs. After that, for some years the potholes disappeared for but a few, but a year or ago have been making a quick comeback.

But, on an airport runway? I mean come on now, where’s the due diligence of inspections, detecting a problem and getting it fixed like when the runway is not in use, like at night? You can’t tell me that the pothole that shut down the airport on that Saturday sprung up of a sudden?

The shutdown that lasted for nearly five hours, from noon to about 5:00 pm when the runway was re-opened affected inbound flights full of tourists on American, United, WestJet, Southwest and Jetblue airlines, that had to be diverted to other airports such as the San Jose airport, Managua (Nicaragua) and even Belize.

Flights were diverted to other airports including San Jose and Managua (Nicaragua)

This news made little impact in Costa Rica. Even yours truly was not aware of this (off sleeping that day), until the shame was brought upon the country by Florida resident and lawyer, Jason Kral, who shared footage online after his Liberia bound flight ended up in Managua.

To be fair to Kral, his intention was not to slam Costa Rica and its POTHOLE issue, rather the video was directed at American Airlines, who because of the Liberia airport shutdown, forced passengers sit in for three hours on the tarmac at the Nicaragua airport, that quickly became fog-filled and the serving of “measly sandwiches” while they waited, before heading back to Miami.

“Dramatic video shows American Airlines passengers sitting in a fog-filled cabin on Nicaragua airport tarmac for THREE HOURS” reads the headline on the MailOnline (

Only reading through the article does the reader learn that the problem was not Ameican’s or their lousy food or the fog, but it all due to the POTHOLE in Costa Rica.

A spokesman for American Airlines said: ‘The flight on June 8 from Miami to Liberia International Airport in Costa Rica, diverted to Managua, Nicaragua, as the Liberia airport was closed due to a runway issue.

‘The flight took off from Miami at 11:12 am (9:12 am Costa Rica time) and landed in Managua at 1:03 p.m. local time. Our crew was waiting for the runway to be repaired for a little over three hours, in an attempt to return to Costa Rica. Our crew kept customers updated throughout the diversion.

The Daniel Oduber International airport in Liberia is the gateway to Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast beaches

‘Unfortunately, it (the pothole) was not repaired in time, and it was determined that the best course of action was to return to Miami instead of deplaning all customers in Managua…We are sorry that Mr. Kral was upset about the diversion and delay, but the safety of our customers and team members is our top priority.”

We are sorry too that tourists such as those on the Ameican flight and the others that day had their vacation plans totally screwed up by an incompetent airport management team and incompetent government authorities, which seem to be good only at creating new taxes to further burden tourists.