Juan Santamaría International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría) (IATA: SJO, ICAO: MROC) is located in Alajuela about 20 km from San José. It is named after Costa Rica's national hero Juan Santamaría, a courageous drummer boy who died in 1856 defending his country against forces led by US-American filibuster William Walker. The airport, which is Costa Rica's primary airport, serves a great number of tourists from Canada, Europe and the United States. There are three other international airports in the country, but of those only the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste is served by major airlines. Currently, Juan Santamaría with 4.1 million passengers, is the second busiest airport in Central America after Tocumen International Airport in Panamá.
The airport's main runway allows for operations of large, widebody aircraft. Currently some scheduled flights are operated with Airbus A330 and A340, and Boeing 747 and 767, for both passengers and freight. A Concorde landed in the year 1999 for that year's airshow. The airport's major airlines is TACA/Lacsa with its international network and TACA's subsidiary Sansa for domestic flights. The airport has also a small hangar (called the "NASA" hangar) where they keep research aircraft that operate in Costa Rica. Among the most relevant aircraft operated from this hangar is the WB-57F high altitude aircraft.
The Costa Rican government charges a $26 USD departure fee, which can be paid in cash (U.S. dollars or equivalent in Colones) or may be paid by Credit Card. The fee can be paid at the airport or in advance at most hotels and banks.
The airport has 17 gates, 9 of them with jetbridges. It is capable of housing 17 commercial airplanes at the same time. There are 3 waiting rooms built on the first floor of the airport, next to the V.I.P room, for regional/domestic flights.
Operations and administration
The airport was operated by Alterra Partners from 2001 to 2009 as part of a plan to improve the airport by the Costa Rican government. As of July 1, 2009, the privately owned Houston-based Canadian-American company ADC & HAS and the Brazilian company, Andrade Gutierrez Concessoes (AGC) - subsidiary of the conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez - took over the operations and administration of Alterra Partners as the previous operators and administrators (AGI, Bechtel, SRL) had mismanaged the airport and its construction and were in non-compliance of the concession contract. The debt financing was arranged through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In Dec 2009, Alterra Partners changed its name to AERIS Holdings, S.A. and the new operators/administrators of the concession installed a new management team with the objective of making it a world class airport. The management team is composed of Carlos Plass as CEO (former CEO of Santiago International Airport in Chile), Tom Bartlett as COO (former COO of the Houston Airport System in Houston) and Rafael Mencia as CFO (former CFO of Aerodom, the company managing the concession for Santo Domingo Airport and five other airports in the Dominican Republic). Under this management, the construction for the expansion of the terminal is on schedule and is expected to be completed by Dec 1, 2010, with part of the terminal (including the new immigration hall) to be inaugurated May 1, 2010.
International parking positions
Regional parking positions
A business/VIP lounge is located in the lower level of the main terminal, across gate 4A. 'VIP Lounge Costa Rica' is the only lounge of this kind in the Juan Santamaria airport, and is exclusively for business/first class passengers of selected airlines, travel companies, banks, Priority Pass program members. Also, any passenger can use the lounge for a fee.
A Diplomatic Receptions Room is situated in the main terminal and only open to Diplomatic visitors.
There is a bus stop outside the airport. The Alajuela - San José route buses stop there in both directions. Buses from other routes also stop there.
Licensed taxis are available in the airport. Taxis will generally accept both Colones and U.S. dollars, but not other currencies. Licensed taxis are red with yellow triangles on the doors, additionally there is an airport taxi service that is licenced and employs orange taxis.
Terminals, airlines and destinations
Main Terminal [M]
The major operator in the airport is TACA/LACSA, followed by Copa Airlines, Continental Airlines and American Airlines. The following airlines have scheduled direct services to and/or from Juan Santamaría International Airport (as of September 2010):
Sansa Terminal [S]
All domestic flights depart from the Sansa Terminal.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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