Stop us if you’ve heard this before. But it appears the long-awaited expansion of the Tocumen International Airport is finally on track to open later this year.
On a tour of the facility this week, airport officials said principal construction on the new terminal is on track to complete by Feb. 29. After that, there will be a final review and construction company Odebrecht will have until June to clean up any details.
All the delays have been frustrating, but the new terminal remains big news for Panama, as it continues to develop into the “Hub of the Americas.” The new terminal, designed by famed architect Foster + Partners, will greatly expand the airport’s capabilities, which will help spark even more growth for the tourist and business communities.
It is estimated that Tocumen will be able to handle 25 million passengers by 2030, a more than 9 million passenger increase compared to 2019. The 16 million passengers handled in 2019 was a record for the airport, after a decade of steady increases.
The new terminal will add 85,000 square meters of space, 20 new boarding gates, improved customs facilities, and a new baggage-handling system. When the new terminal is open, the airport will feature a total of 68 gates spread over an area of 148,000 square meters.
The new terminal should improve the airport experience for travelers, as well as the flow of flights through the city. Copa Airlines is working with the government to launch a stopover program, which will allow travelers stopping in Panama City to spend more time in the city without additional fees, a move which should provide a huge boost to the city’s international exposure.
The Tocumen expansion may be overdue, but doesn’t minimize the huge impact it will have on Panama City and the region. All the delays will soon be forgotten when travelers get a chance to enjoy the new airport and all its amenities.