San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country’s Airports Narrowly Avoid Closure

A threat from the National Firefighters’ Corps to suspend the organization’s services at the country’s international airports would have resulted in the airports’ closure Tuesday, but for a last-minute promise from Civil Aviation to pay part of the debt it owes the corps.

Héctor Chaves, who directs the Firefighters’ Corps, warned Civil Aviation’s Technical Council (CTAC) in a letter Monday that he’d suspend firefighter services at all international airports if the debt were not paid, according to the daily La Nación.

International regulations state that no airport can operate without firefighting personnel to deal with emergencies on planes or in the terminal, so Chaves’ action would have suspended flights at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, west of San Jose; Tobías Bolaños International Airport in Pavas, a western San José suburb; and Daniel Oduber International Airport in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

Chaves claims Civil Aviation owes the Firefighters’ Corps a total of ¢244 million (approximately $439,216) in payments for services rendered in the second half of 2005 and the first half of this year, the daily reported. Civil Aviation President Vivian Martín promised to pay ¢55 million (approximately $107,840) of the debt this week, with the rest to be paid when the Comptroller General’s Office ratifies a new agreement between the two agencies.

Martín told La Nación the problem stems from inaction on the part of the Civil Aviation board during the previous administration.


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