THE price of most internationalflights to and from Juan SantamaríaInternational Airport dropped between2001 and 2004, in part because of greatercompetition between airlines, according astatement issued by Alterra Partners CostaRica, the firm in charge of administratingand remodeling the airport.The information is based on a studyconducted by English consulting firmAirport Strategy & Marketing reviewingaverage ticket prices. The study founddecreases in the prices of most of the airport’s23 routes.Prices increased for routes serviced byfew airlines, such as those to Central andSouth America. The cost of roundtripflights to El Salvador, Panama and Peru,which are serviced by only three airlines,increased.However, roundtrip prices to U.S.cities serviced by four to six airlines –Dallas, Miami, Newark and New York –dropped by more than $100. The samewas true for flights to Madrid andToronto. In the case of Guatemala, whereUnited Airlines flies in addition to CentralAmerican airlines, fares also went down.“The study shows that thanks to thefruit of the strategy to develop new routesand attract new airlines, passengers arebenefiting from more flight offers at alower price,” explained Mónica Nágel,executive director of Alterra.“Costa Rica became a more attractivetourism destination for North Americansand Europeans, and this made it cheaper forCosta Ricans to travel abroad,” she said.Between May 2001 and June 2004,Alterra and the Costa Rican TourismInstitute (ICT), attracted seven new airlines:Air Canada, Air Madrid, AmericaWest, Lauda, Thomas Cook by Condor,U.S. Airways and West Indies Airways.The study also mentioned the 23 mostpopular destinations for Costa Rican travelers– Amsterdam, Atlanta, Caracas,Charlotte, Dallas, Newark, Frankfort,Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama,Houston, Los Angeles, Lima, Madrid,Mexico, Managua, Miami, New York,Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco,Washington D.C. and Toronto.Despite the study’s positive results,Nágel said there is much work to be doneto improve the airport. She recognized theneed for the government to speed upCustoms and Immigration procedures.She also mentioned the need to completethe remodeling of the airport. Workon the airport has been stalled since lastyear as a result of a dispute betweenAlterra and the government (TT, May 7).The dispute is in arbitration.A completed airport would doublespace at the airport. This would make thefacilities more comfortable for passengersand attract new airlines, Nágel said.