Fly In to a Modern Guatemala
Returning visitors to Guatemala might experience a bit of shock. Gone is the nostalgically old-fashioned and dimly lit airport that once welcomed tourists, in its place visitors will find a completely modernized and expanded version of what was once one few remaining Category 2 airports in Central America.
After almost three years of renovations and expansions, the FAA finally certified Guatemala’s International airport “La Aurora” as Category I in June 2007. On December 11th, 2007 the north wing and first part of the new installations was inaugurated and is expected to receive more airlines and tourists in addition to decreasing airfares by up to 40%.
Work on the second phase of La Aurora International Airport was set to start sometime this year but irregularities with the budget recently surfaced and a US$40 Million debt could postpone the inauguration of the future South Wing.
The Santa Elena airport in Peten “Mundo Maya” was renovated as well and a new international airport in Puerto San Jose was inaugurated in January of this year, the latter will now serve as an alternative in case of flight diversions (due to bad weather or other circumstances) instead of diverting flights to El Salvador as was previously the case.
Modernization plans for Guatemala’s airports began with Oscar Berger’s presidency and will be continued with Alvaro Colom’s government. The plan is to renovate all national airports and elevate some to an international category.
Public opinion on the modernization efforts is split, those opposed to the initiatives consider that there are much more pressing needs in Guatemala, like health and education, while supporters claim that the modernized airports will encourage tourism and consequently aid community development.
This article was posted by Yvonne Faass, our editor in Guatemala.