LANDING SOLUTIONS

Colombia 2013 | TRANSPORT | B2B: AIRPORTS

As tourists begin pouring back to Colombia, airports must find ways to attract them away from only the capital city to benefit from the influx.

Raúl Donado Osio
RAÚL DONADO OSIO
Manager
Barranquilla Airport Ernesto Cortissoz
María Claudia Gedeón Cueter
MARÍA CLAUDIA GEDEÓN CUETER
Financial & Commercial Manager
Sociedad Aeropuertuaria de la Costa

What are the most significant routes?

RAÚL DONADO OSIO The most popular route is from Barranquilla to Bogotá. Many companies consider Bogotá a hub and as soon as the city experiences a traffic jam, the entire country is affected. Barranquilla has a 3,000-meter runway and an excellent geographic situation. As the bridge between North America and South America, we are one of the most important airports in the region. However, we need to create an acropolis to complement and encourage the growth of the airport. Although we can give the people of Barranquilla an excellent airport, if the government does not create different attractions for the city, it will go largely unused. Major airlines don't decide to fly to Barranquilla because we have the best airport; they come here based on the amount of passengers traveling to visit the city. The best example of this phenomenon is in Cartagena. Although the airport is not as efficient as ours, Cartagena has many attractions in the tourism, finance, and education sectors.

MARIA CLAUDIA GEDEÓN In 2011, we moved 2.15 million passengers, and in 2012 we moved 2.88 million people. In 2013, we are expecting to transport 3 million people. We expect an increase in passengers from the East Coast of the US, and also from the EU that will use the connection in New York to come to Cartagena. Nationally, it is Bogotá. That is our main market. Medellín is second, and Cali is third. Fourth would be San Andrés, Pereira, or Bucaramanga. Internationally, we have 18 flights a week to Panama, which is almost three daily. We have a daily service to Miami. We have four or five flights a week to Fort Lauderdale and three flights a week to New York through JetBlue. We are negotiating to bring airlines from South America to connect the south directly to Cartagena. We are also looking for more US carriers and maybe one from Europe, hopefully from Spain. However, that is on hold currently due to the economic crisis. I think that Cartagena is going to become the main tourist attraction of Colombia. Right now, the large US hotel chains are building their hotels there now. We have Hyatt, Sheraton, Hampton Inn, Radisson, and others. They are all opening within the next two years, which will help put Cartagena on the map for the US market.

How do you see the air transportation sector developing in the country?

RDO The airport is also working to convince an airline to establish its hub here in Barranquilla, which would be an excellent point from which to distribute passengers and cargo to the Caribbean islands and Central America. We can make agreements with airlines such as Avianca to become feeders of a company that has a hub here and operates both inbound and outbound flights. At the moment, the only international flights from our airport are to Miami and Panama. If passengers are headed to Aruba, it is necessary to first travel to Bogotá. This is inefficient because Aruba is so close to Barranquilla. This is why we need to convince at least one company to establish a hub here. It doesn't have to be huge carrier—just a medium-sized airline with planes capable of transporting between 50 and 100 passengers on a craft such as the Airbus A318.

How important is this airport for Cartagena and the Colombian economy?

MCD Cartagena is very important for the Colombia government as a tourist destination; we are the second city to visit in the country and the main destination after Bogotá. The Colombian government wants to have 4 million international passengers by 2014 when President Santos ends his term. Because the port of Cartagena is the most efficient one on the Caribbean coast for the last four or five years, it helps Cartagena's economy and the industry here. Also, Cartagena is a place where many foreigners are buying second houses. That helps the Colombian economy and is making Cartagena become a main destination for tourism.