THIS month marks the 25th anniversaryof Costa Rican airline ServiciosAéreos S.A. (SANSA). Representatives ofSANSA said they see the airline’s birthdayas an opportunity to assess what the companyhas accomplished and plan its continuedgrowth in the coming years.The airline, which forms part of CentralAmerican airline Grupo TACA, flies fromJuan Santamaría International Airport on theoutskirts of San José to 14 destinationsthroughout Costa Rica – Barra delColorado, Coto 47, Drake Bay, Golfito,Liberia, Nosara, Palmar Sur, PuertoJiménez, Punta Islita, Quepos, Samara,Tamarindo, Tambor and Tortuguero.SANSA is preparing to increase itsnumber of weekly flights from 60 to 70 inpreparation for the upcoming tourism highseason, from December until April,according to company representatives.AS part of its strategy to attract moretravelers, SANSA has launched AirPass –a new, more cost-effective way for passengersto pay for multiple flights.The AirPass is aimed at tourists whowant to travel to several parts of the countrywhile visiting Costa Rica and residents whoregularly travel from rural areas to San José.AirPass offers savings over regular roundtriptickets, which cost $116-$142 each dependingon the destination, according to CarlosDelgado, general manager of SANSA.A one-week AirPass, which costs$199, allows travelers to fly on as manySANSA flights as they want to any destinationthe airline flies to for one week. Thetwo-week AirPass, which costs $249, canprovide even greater savings.SANSA operates 12-seat Cessna GrandCaravan airplanes.All of the airline’s planes are equippedwith a satellite-tracking system, whichpermits the pilot to know exactly wherethe plane is, even in zero visibility conditions.The system, known as EnhancedProximity Warning System (EPGWS),serves a backup in the case the plane’s regularinstruments fail, Delgado said.DELGADO says SANSA has plans tocontinue expanding in the coming years.However, its expansion will depend onhow the Costa Rican tourism industrydevelops.The airline’s immediate priority is togradually increase its number of weeklyflights to better service its destinations,rather than adding new destinations like itscompetition, Costa Rican airline NatureAir (see separate story).“We currently fly to practically all thedestinations available where there is alarge concentration of tourism,” Delgadoexplained. “We’re still missing [theCaribbean port city of] Limón. We’d liketo fly there to serve the southern Limónarea, which includes Puerto Viejo andCahuita. We plan to start the flight whenthe government finishes repairs of the airport(TT, May 21).”Delgado also said the airline is consideringflights to the Arenal/La Fortuna area inthe Northern Zone, an area where tourismhas flourished in recent years. However, hecould not say when flights would begin.“This year has been much better thanlast year,” he said. “All our routes havegrown. This is the result of an overallincrease in tourism to Costa Rica. As long astourism continues to increase, our number offlights and passengers will increase as well.”IN the long-term, SANSA and otherCentral American national airlines thatform part of Grupo TACA – AeroPerlas ofPanama, Costeña of Nicaragua, Isleña ofHonduras and Inter of Guatemala – plan tointegrate their services and begin offeringinternational flights within CentralAmerica without having to go througheach country’s capital city.Together, the five airlines travel to 65destinations within Central America.Integrating their services would make itpossible for each airline to take advantageof the growing trend of multi-destinationCentral American trips, Delgado said.“The idea for the future is to create anetwork between all these airlines to coverthe entire Central American region,” hesaid. “This will depend on the region’sintegration. I am hopeful this process willbe accelerated by the Central AmericanFree-Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with theUnited States.“INTERNATIONAL flights are verydifferent than domestic ones,” Delgadoexplained. “They involve immigration andcustoms controls and higher securityrequirements. As long as these obstaclesexist, it will be difficult to create a regionalairline network. Right now, we can’t gofrom San José or Liberia to Granada(Nicaragua) or Roatán (Honduras) withoutmeeting a series of international regulations,”he said. “It’s a complicated process.”For more information or to make areservation, visit SANSA online atwww.flysansa.com or call 221-9414.