Adding new and rebuilding existing airports as promised in Panama
by the Martinelli Administration

By Juan Carlos Martinez

It all began with the expansion of the international airport, Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen. On October 12, 2009 President Ricardo Martinelli delivered the official order to proceed with the construction of the North Section of Tocumen Airport. This constitutes the beginning of the second phase of the Master Plan for Development of the airport.

airport rebuilding

This second phase represents an investment of 70 million dollars and the addition of 12 new boarding doors which will increase airport capacity by 50%. The annual flow of passengers through Tocumen is currently 5 Million passengers per year.

During the ceremony, President Martinelli asked the administrators of Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen to be proactive and start planning now, the execution of phase three and four of the Master Plan which involve the South Section of the Airport. He also asked them to move forward with the purchase of adjoining land in order to build another runway which would substantially increase the number of flights that can land. Tocumen Airport is currently one of the best in the region and the expansions planned will make it truly, a world class transit center.

The contract for the second phase of the Tocumen Airport expansion was awarded to the Colombian company AeroTocumen and also includes a new building for administrative staff, the remodeling of the airport's facade, new circulation channels for aircraft, a new presidential room and access to the cargo area. The construction is programmed to be finished in the first quarter of 2011.

At the beginning of May, Tocumen Airport began remodeling and rebuilding the facade of the passenger terminal, it is working in the main lobby as well as the passenger exit area. Concurrently they are planning to open up for bidding the management of the Food Court for Tocumen Airport. Currently there are very few restaurants in Tocumen Airport as compared to the flow of passengers it receives. The Airport administration has invited eight companies to submit offers. Some of the companies interested include Grupo Los Pueblos, Franquicias Panameñas, Multicentro and IMC (International Meal Company from Mexico). The concession of the food court at Tocumen Airport will be for ten years and the winning company must design, build and operate said food court in addition to negotiating with the restaurants that will operate in it.

The tender for the remodeling and upgrading of the Enrique Malek Airport in David, Chiriqui has already been awarded to an Argentine company, Riva S.A., and up next is the bidding process for the remodeling and upgrading of Enrique Jimenez Airport in the province of Colon which is estimated at around USD$60 million.

A lot has been said about an international airport in the Central Provinces and according to announcements made by the President of the Republic, Mr. Ricardo Martinelli it will be built in the province of Cocle, where several of the new resorts such as Breezes, Playa Blanca, Decameron and Nikki Beach are located at an estimated cost of USD$100 million dollars. Still to be established is the exact location where the airport shall be built as several locations have been proposed in the Province of Cocle and lobbies have been organized in favor of each one of them. This seems to insure that the airport will be built; it is just not clear where in Cocle.

Right now the landing strip in Bocas del Toro, Colon Island is being fixed and the Howard airport just across the bridge is also slated for improvement so it can receive charter flights. "Welcome to Panama".


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