No Solution in Sight for Broken Airport Lights

July 6, 2007

The lights that help guide jetliner pilots landing at JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport west of San José on foggy nights have been out since 2004, and officials have yet to agree on a plan to fix them.

The lights, now too old to repair, were once situated approximately 450 meters off the runway, in an area dominated by farmland dedicated to growing flowers, and a tin recycling plant.

The airport’s Civil Aviation Authority has been attempting to expropriate the land for three years without success, according to Mario Zamora, president of the Costa Rica Airline Association and TACA, the regional airline that services Central America.

Zamora said landowners, tired of interference from airline officials, declined to sell their property in 2005. The expropriation process is ongoing.

Viviana Martín, president of the Civil Aviation Council, told the daily La Nación last week that the process should have taken place immediately, while there was still open dialogue with landowners.

Misunderstandings and disagreements on the part of both the landowners and the council have led to the three-year delay.

Zamora explained that the lack of direction lights doesn’t directly influence passenger safety, because planes don’t land when the conditions and lighting aren’t adequate.

“Planes won’t land because they don’t want to take the chance,” he said.

But the lack of appropriate lighting does affect passenger convenience – and the economy, including airlines, which suffer the consequences of cancelled and delayed flights.

“At this time of year, and particular during the heaviest rains of September and October, many flights are turned away, or cancelled, because of the lack of lights,” Zamora said.

Statistics from Alterra, the company that manages the airport, indicate that 10 flights were cancelled in June, and 59 were redirected to other terminals due to poor night lighting conditions.

Zamora emphasized that each cancelled or redirected flight ignites a ripple effect, costing airlines money in air fuel and administration, and costing hotels lost nights in client visits.

 

You may be interested

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week
The Alvarado Administration
28 views
The Alvarado Administration
28 views

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week

The Tico Times - May 21, 2018

Newly inaugurated Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado is closing in on two weeks on the job. Here are some of…

PHOTOS: International Museum Day in Costa Rica
Arts & Culture
56 views
Arts & Culture
56 views

PHOTOS: International Museum Day in Costa Rica

Mitzi Stark - May 21, 2018

May 18 is International Museum Day, and Costa Rica celebrated with 31 mini-museums all in one at the Casa del…

Costa Rica, Panama refuse to acknowledge Venezuelan election results
Latin America
84 views
Latin America
84 views

Costa Rica, Panama refuse to acknowledge Venezuelan election results

AFP - May 21, 2018

Costa Rica and Panama were two of 14 countries in the Americas to announce they would not acknowledge the results…