Region, Nicoya

Not Enough Demand for Commercial Airline Flights to Nicoya Airfield

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Even though 800 million colones ($1.5 million) was invested in 2009, the runway of the Nicoya airfield is only used during the day and only for medical emergencies. The lack of passenger demand is the reason why tourist flights don’t arrive. This was confirmed by both Nature Air and Sansa regional airlines, companies that do not consider it profitable to travel to the Nicoya runway.

Dayane Benavides, in charge of marketing for Nature Air, said that the airline does not have flights scheduled to the colonial city for now because there is no real demand from passengers.

“For us to have to do a flight, we have to do a productivity, planning and logistics study, and for now, we have not scheduled to do flights to Nicoya because the costs would not be covered by the arrival of flights,” Benavides explained.

Similarly, Ricardo Miranda, an official from Sansa’s commercial department, explained that they don’t have passenger demand and there is not a sufficient market in Nicoya. He even pointed out that the airline stopped doing flights to Nosara because they lacked the minimum number of passengers.

“In order to schedule a flight, we need to fill at least 50% of the aircraft. If people don’t call us and there is no commitment from area business owners to attract tourists, we cannot schedule a flight to Nicoya,” explained Miranda.

This means that a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft with a capacity of 12 passengers needs to have a minimum of 6 passengers per flight to meet that requirement.

In addition, Miranda estimated that the cost of a ticket for a trip from Nicoya to San Jose would be about $100 for foreign tourists and about $65 for national residents. Sansa reported that a trip on a small plane from Nicoya to San Jose lasts about 50 minutes.

Runway for Emergencies Only

Since tourist flights do not arrive, the runway only receives emergency flights transferring passengers from La Anexion Hospital to other medical centers in the capital.

Since 2009, Civil Aviation invested more than ¢800 million ($1.5 million) in improving the 953-meter airstrip, which went from measuring 12 to 18 meters (39 to 59 feet) in diameter.

In addition, a perimeter fence was put up and a perimeter demarcation was done because all kinds of animals were getting in before, from chickens to horses and cows, among others.

Additionally, a perimeter demarcation was done to give pilots greater safety for landing, but the runway still does not have regulatory lighting for night flights to arrive.

Ricardo Miranda called for Nicoya business owners to collaborate with the arrival of tourists to Nicoya by air.

“If tourism business owners are interested in having flights arrive to Nicoya, they should call us and commit to ensuring the arrival of a minimum of tourists and thus have an airline operate,” Miranda said.  

 This aircraft, known as an autogyro or gyrocopter, is used for private flights to fly over areas near the runway.