Peru is experiencing an important momentum regarding economic development and infrastructural initiatives, thanks to which the Andean country’s airports are receiving much-needed upgrades. Apart from the expansion of major airports, like Lima and Cusco, smaller regional terminals are also being developed. Such projects are very important as they will transform Peru into a “hub” of regional air traffic, which will contribute to the country’s coffers.
In mid-September, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala visited Tacna, in Southern Peru, to declare that the city’s “Coronel FAP Carlos Ciriani Santa Rosa” airport will receive an investment of around S/. 50 million (slightly over US $17 million). The funds will be utilized to refurbish a landing strip and the terminal. The goal of the upgrades is to help the airport attract flights from Chile and Argentina, which will in turn help increase tourism to Peru’s Southern regions.
Additionally, the country’s main international airport, Lima’s “Jorge Chávez,” is slowly expanding its operations. On September 22, Interior Minister Daniel Urresti Elera announced that 24 new migration posts began operating in said airport and will continue to operate 24 hours a day in three shifts. Thanks to the extra stations, a larger number of travelers will be more promptly attended as they prepare to enter or depart from the country, which will hopefully help to prevent flight delays.
It is important to stress that upgrades to the airports in Tacna and Lima are not the only recent positive developments, as new air routes are also being created. In early October, the Peruvian airline LAN Peru announced that it will commence flights between Lima and the Andean region of Ayacucho. Specifically, the airline will have flights three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) between Lima and Ayacucho’s “Coronel FAP Alfredo Mendívil Duarte” airport. The aircraft selected for this route is the Airbus A320 which, according to Airbus’s website, can seat up to 150 passengers in a two-class cabin. This will be the airline’s 15th route, and the newest once in years as LAN Peru last inaugurated a route in 2008 (between Lima and Cajamarca, in the north).
As for new airports, a major development occurred in April, when the Consortium Kuntur Wasi (constituted by Peru’s Andino Investment Holding S.A. and Argentina’s Corporación America S.A.) won a contract to construct an international airport in Chinchero, Cuzco. The Consortium will control the airport for forty years. According to official information, the terminal will encompass 40 thousand square meters and will be capable of handling up to 4.5 million passengers per year. The estimated cost of the new airport is US $538 million.
Unfortunately, in spite of the aforementioned positive ongoing initiatives, other projects to upgrade airports have been slow to materialize. One prominent example of major construction problems is the delay regarding the new runway and terminal for Lima’s “Jorge Chávez” airport.
On February 14, 2001, the liability company Lima Airport Partners (LAP) signed a concession agreement with the Ministry of Transportation via which the former obtained control of “Jorge Chávez” for three decades. One of LAP’s major ambitions is to expand “Jorge Chávez,” but these plans have been delayed because the government has faced problems with securing the terrain that will be utilized for the new infrastructure. It is now expected that construction will (finally) commence on January 1, 2016 and, in the best case scenario, the project will be finished by 2020.
This presents a major obstacle for the Humala administration as it wants to transform Lima into a hub for flights over South America’s Pacific Coast. In an interview with the Peruvian daily El Comercio, Luis Sicheri, a dean at Peru’s Universidad Científica del Sur (a Peruvian university located in Lima’s posh Miraflores district), warns that Peru must significantly upgrade and expand “Jorge Chávez” in the near future “otherwise the hubs of Bogota (Colombia), Quito (Ecuador) and Santiago de Chile (Chile), will pass it over.”
In other words, it is a priority for Peru to upgrade its network of airports, not simply because it is a natural consequence of population growth, but also in order to become a regional leader in air travel. President Humala has less than two years left in office, and he should devote this time to further supporting the improvement of Peruvian airports, not just major ones in Lima and Cuzco, but also smaller ones like in Ayacucho and Tacna.
You can follow W. Alejandro Sanchez on his Geopolitics & Geosecurity blog and on Twitter: “@W_Alex_Sanchez”: