Universal Aviation to build and manage Costa Rica’s first general aviation terminal


Aeris Holdings has selected GAT SJO, a consortium consisting of Universal Aviation Costa Rica and local partners, to manage a new general aviation terminal (GAT) at Juan Santamaría International Airport (MROC).

The new GAT facility will be exclusively available to international private operations and is the first facility of its kind in Costa Rica. The terminal will operate under the name GAT SJO General Aviation Terminal.

Aeris, which has an agreement with the Costa Rican government to invest and operate MROC until 2026, selected GAT SJO to remodel and manage the GAT following a public request for proposal. GAT will be part of the new domestic terminal at MROC, an infrastructure project which includes 15,260ft2 (1,417m2) and has a capacity to accommodate up to 600 passengers in peak time. That project was delivered in May 2018 and required an investment of US$12.5m.

Remodeling of the GAT area of the terminal is scheduled to begin this July and is expected to be completed by September 2019. All private aviation ground handlers, as well as home-based operators at MROC, will be allowed to operate through the GAT.

“We are thrilled that the Costa Rican government, airport authorities and Aeris recognized the need for a dedicated GAT to improve the privacy, experience, safety, and security of private operators at MROC/SJO,” said Adolfo Aragon, Universal’s senior vice president, Latin America and Caribbean. “The new GAT will drastically reduce private operators’ time on the ground. It will also result in a vastly different experience compared to the current inbound/outbound process where they are mixed with commercial passengers in shared lines to clear CIQ [customs, immigration and quarantine.”

With the new process, upon deplaning, private passengers will be shuttled by their handling agents from the parking area to the GAT, which will have a dedicated area for CIQ.

“Private operators will no longer have to clear formalities inside the airline terminal in potentially long lines, and passengers will no longer be separated from their baggage, which was previously mixed into commercial baggage carousels, adding more complexity to the operation and stress to the passengers,” said Aragon.

“Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría has been recognized for the increase in passengers year-over-year and the improvement of our facilities. Adding the first exclusive terminal for private aviation operators is an important milestone and the culmination of a comprehensive project started many years ago. This project significantly improves the accessibility and attractiveness of the country, which translates into more opportunities for investment and development,” said Rafael Mencía, executive director of AERIS Costa Rica.

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With a decade of experience in trade publishing, Hazel first joined UKi Media & Events in 2011 as assistant editor before progressing to editor of Business Airport International. After taking 18 months off to bring up her daughter and try her hand at marketing copywriting, she returned to UKi Media & Events in January 2018 to do what she loves best – magazine editing!

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