April 10 2018  |  Airlines & Airports

Panama opens up bidding for airspace redesign at Tocumen International Airport

By Ronnie Lovler

Panama opened up bidding today for the US$8million redesign of its airspace at Tocumen International Airport.

Civil Aviation Authority Director General Alfredo Fonseca Mora told local media that the airspace is “oversaturated” had not been modified for decades, and that changes are needed to keep pace with Panama’s growth.

Boeing, Lufthansa and Spain’s Indra are among the companies that are expected to put in bids for the contract, according to local media.

The bidding process had been slated to begin at the end of last year but was postponed at the request of some of the companies planning to participate in the bidding process.

Fonseca Mora said in earlier interviews with the Panamanian media that once it begins, the process of airspace redesign would take at least four years to complete.

The goal, according to Fonseca Mora, is that once airspace redesign is completed and ground traffic capabilities enhanced, it would be possible to handle one plane per minute, compared to the 90 seconds or even two minutes it now takes.

Among the companies that will compete for the contract are Boeing, Lufthansa and Spain’s Indra.

The airspace redesign coincides with a multi-million-dollar expansion project that includes a new terminal that is expected to open later this year. When completed, the airport, already a hub for Central and South America, expects to increase its capacity by nine million passengers to 25 million once the new terminal opens in the last quarter of 2018. In 2016, Tocumen International Airport, Panama’s main airport and an important regional hub, handled 14.6 million passengers in 2016.

The airport is the home base for Panama’s Copa Airlines and a main connection point for other Latin American carriers like Colombia’s Avianca.

A recent study by the International Air Transport Association found that air transport accounts for 2.4% of Panama’s gross domestic product (GDP), generates US$2.2 billion a year and employs about 21,000 people.

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