Sunday 5 February 2023

Private jets fill Guanacaste airport, witnesses of high purchasing power tourism

Between December 15 and January 3, 432 private aircraft operations were recorded at the Daniel Oduber airport, in Liberia

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QCOSTARICA – A record of 432 private flights, between December 15, 2021, and January 3, 2022, were logged in at the Daniel Oduber International Airport, in Liberia, Guanacaste, proof of the growing high-level tourism that visits that province.

It is becoming more and more common to see several private aircraft that park at the Daniel Oduber airport, in Liberia, Guanacaste, while tourists vacation in that province. Photo: Courtesy of Civil Aviation

According to the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC), there were 22 private flights daily arriving at the Guanacaste airport in the period analyzed.

For this reason, it has become more and more common to see private aircraft parked at that international airport.

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The general director of the DGAC Álvaro Vargas, the general manager of Guanacaste Airport (administrator of Daniel Oduber), César Jaramillo, and the president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), Javier Pacheco, agreed that more high-end tourists are vacationing in Guanacaste and nearby areas.

According to Vargas, the attention of these private flights is quite similar to that of commercial aviation. Aircraft only require permission to enter the country.

“For the overflight and landing in our country it is only required that they submit a flight plan and coordinate with the airport administration for parking space, if they stay at the airport,” Vargas explained.

He added that in some cases the aircraft stay in the terminal for a short time to refuel before leaving, in some occasions, they are making a “technical” stop.

Meanwhile, Jaramillo explained that the arrival and parking of private jets and helicopters at the airport in Liberia is a trend that has been growing and is much more visible in the high tourism season, between December and April.

Photo: Courtesy of Civil Aviation

“There are many types of aircraft, helicopters, jets, light aircraft. There are a large number of ‘N’ license plates (US registration) but there are also Mexican, from many parts,” said Jaramillo. The terminal has had, he said, up to 23 such flights a day so far this peak season.

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Pacheco predicted strong growth in this type of tourism in the coming years. He explained that apart from the seven-star hotel of the Dubai Investment Corporation (ICD), announced on December 7 last, while three other luxury brands will unveil their projects very soon, all will be installed on the Papagayo peninsula, in Guanacaste.

“These announcements will be a great reinforcement of the country’s international image in the luxury segment and, also, a call for Costa Rica to accelerate the expansion of the Liberia airport,” Pacheco said.

The hotel manager and businessman considers it necessary and urgent to expand the runway, have more parking spaces for aircraft and create a new sector for this type of visitor to process immigration and other requirements.

The Papagayo Tourist Pole was created by a special law in 1982 and is located on 1,658 hectares of land owned by the State, in the Gulf of Papagayo. A group of 374 companies have concessions granted it by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo(ICT) for periods of 20 years and up to 50 years extendable.

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