In the News from Panama

Panama Pacifico Airport Seeks Budget Airlines

The airport in the master-planned Panama Pacifico development is getting an influx of cash to expand its facility with an eye toward attracting more regional budget airlines.

More than $9 million will be spent to install luggage carousels, upgrade the runway, add ticket counters and help make the facility friendlier for carriers. Right now the only airline flying out of the facility is Viva Colombia, which offers flights to Bogota and Medellin.

The idea of Panama Pacifico expanding its budget offerings is an intriguing opportunity for Panama City. It would mesh well with the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, which will include the extension of the Panama metro.

Panama Pacifico is one of the largest mixed-use developments in the world, covering 3,450-acres, developed by U.K.-based London & regional. The former Howard air base will eventually be home to 20,000 residential properties, 40,000 permanent jobs and 170 global companies. It makes sense to add air service on the site.

Expanding the airport would offer Panama City residents quick links to the region and provide competition for the airlines flying out of rapidly-expanding Tocumen International Airport.

Viva Colombia started flying out of Tocumen in 2014, the first commercial carrier to use the airport. The results have “exceeded expectations,” said Rosa Muñoz, regional operations manager for airport operator Tocumen S.A., according to coverage in La Prensa. Budget airlines from Ecuador, Colombia and El Salvador have expressed interest in starting flights out of the airport, she says.

The contract for expanding the airport will be tendered on Oct. 23, La Prensa reports