Juan Santamaría International Airport

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For other airports, see San Jose Airport (disambiguation).
Juan Santamaría
International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional
Juan Santamaría
SJO Airport Logo.png
Juan Santamaria Airport SJO 12 2009 4900.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Costa Rica
Operator Aeris Holdings Costa Rica under ADC & HAS and Andrade Gutiérrez Concesores
Serves San José, Costa Rica
Location Alajuela Province
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL 921 m / 3,022 ft
Coordinates 09°59′38″N 084°12′32″W / 9.99389°N 84.20889°W / 9.99389; -84.20889Coordinates: 09°59′38″N 084°12′32″W / 9.99389°N 84.20889°W / 9.99389; -84.20889
Website www.fly2sanjose.com
SJO is located in Costa Rica
Location in Costa Rica
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 3,012 9,882 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 4,316,279
Passenger change 14–15 Increase15.5%
Aircraft movements 79,441
Movements change 14–15 Increase4.1%
Source: Costa Rican AIP,[1] DGAC[2]

Juan Santamaría International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría) (IATA: SJOICAO: MROC) is the primary airport serving San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The airport is located near the city of Alajuela, 20 km (12 miles) west of downtown San José. It is named after Costa Rica's national hero, Juan Santamaría, a courageous drummer boy who died in 1856 defending his country against forces led by US-American filibuster William Walker.

The airport is hub of local airline Nature Air and Sansa Airlines, and focus city airport for Copa Airlines and Avianca. It was the country's only international gateway for many years, but nowadays there is also an international airport in Liberia, Guanacaste. Both airports have direct flights to North and Central America and Europe, with the difference that Juan Santamaría International Airport also serves cities in South America and the Caribbean.

The airport's main runway allows for operations of large, widebody aircraft. Currently, some scheduled flights are operated with Airbus A330 and A340, and Boeing 747, 767 and 777, for both passengers and freight. A Concorde landed in 1999 for that year's airshow.[3] The airport has also a small hangar (called the "NASA" hangar) where research aircraft are kept that operate in Costa Rica[4] including the Martin B-57 Canberra high altitude aircraft. (This hangar has since been removed as the mission was completed.)[5]

Juan Santamaría International Airport was once the busiest airport in Central America, but currently it is ranked second after Tocumen International Airport in Panamá. In 2015, Juan Santamaría International Airport received 4.3 million passengers (international flights only). In 2011, the airport was named the 3rd Best Airport in Latin America - Caribbean from the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council International[6]


The airport was built to replace the previous one in downtown San Jose where Parque La Sabana is located today.[7] Funding was secured by the government in 1951[8] and construction proceed slowly until it was officially inaugurated on May 2, 1958.[9] It was initially called "Aeropuerto Internacional el Coco" after its location of the same name in the province of Alajuela. It would later be renamed in honor of Juan Santamaría. In 1961 funding was secured to build the highway that connects the airport to downtown San José.[10]

No major changes were made to the terminal until November 1997 when the government issued a decree requesting participation of private companies to manage the operations of the airport.[11] After a few years of legal challenges and contract negotiations Alterra Partners was given a 20-year concession and started managing the facilities in May 2001.[11] It was also expected that the company would finish the necessary expansion and construction of new facilities, however in March 2002 Alterra announced it would cease any further construction due to disagreements over financing and airport use fee billing with the government.[12] The dispute was extended for a few years and problems started at the terminal; in 2005 the International Civil Aviation Organization pointed out that the airport did not comply with safety regulations.[9]

In July 2009 Alterra yielded the contract to a consortium composed of Houston-based Canadian-American company ADC & HAS and the Brazilian company, Andrade Gutierrez Concessoes (AGC) - subsidiary of the conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez.[13] In December 2009 Alterra Partners changed its name to AERIS Holdings, S.A.[13] In November 2010 Aeris announced it had finished the expansion and construction of new facilities with the installation of the 9th boarding bridge.[14]

Ground transportation[edit]

The road access to the airport is on an exit at Route 1, and near the exit to Alajuela. There is a parking area with surcharge, plus a bus stop with plenty of services to San Jose downtown (with no exact schedule but with 24-hours bus service and approximately one service every 10 minutes during working hours). Licensed taxis are available in the airport and will generally accept both colones and U.S. dollars, but not other currencies. Costa Rican taxis are red with yellow triangles on the doors, ubiquitous all over the country, plus there is a special airport taxi service that is licensed and employs orange taxis.

Terminals and lounges[edit]

Main Terminal [M][edit]

The major operator in the airport is Avianca, followed by Copa Airlines. The following airlines have scheduled direct services to and/or from Juan Santamaría International Airport (as of May 2013):

Domestic Terminal [D][edit]

Sansa Airlines and Nature Air flights depart from the Domestic Terminal.

VIP lounges[edit]

  • VIP Santamaría (Shared Avianca/Credomatic VIP)
  • Copa Club

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Current domestic routes from SJO.
Current Americas routes from SJO.
Current European routes from SJO.
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aeroméxico Mexico City M
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau (begins December 22, 2016)[15]
Air France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle (begins November 2, 2016)[16] M
Air Panama David, Panama City-Albrook M
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson M
Alaska Airlines Los Angeles M
Albatros Airlines Caracas M
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
Seasonal: Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Avianca Costa Rica Bogotá, Guatemala City, Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Panama City, San Salvador, Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Cancún, New York–JFK, Caracas
Avianca Guatemala Guatemala City, San Andrés, Tegucigalpa M
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador M
British Airways London–Gatwick M
Condor Frankfurt, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Seasonal: Munich (begins November 7, 2016)[17]
Copa Airlines Guatemala City, Managua, Panama City, Tegucigalpa M
Copa Airlines Colombia Guatemala City, Panama City M
Cubana de Aviación Havana M
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles
Seasonal: New York–JFK
Edelweiss Air Zürich (begins May 9, 2017)[18] M
Iberia Madrid M
Interjet Mexico City M
JetBlue Airways Fort Lauderdale, Orlando M
Nature Air Bocas del Toro, Drake Bay, Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Managua, Nosara, Puerto Jimenez, Punta Islita, Quepos, Tamarindo, Tambor, Tortuguero M
Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas Seasonal: Madrid[19] M
Sansa Airlines Costa Esmeralda, Drake Bay, Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Limón, Palmar Sur, Puerto Jimenez, Quepos, San Isidro, Tamarindo, Tambor, Tortuguero D
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Houston–Hobby M
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental M
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Denver
Veca Airlines San Salvador M
Volaris Cancún, Guadalajara M
WestJet Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson M
Wingo Guatemala City,[20] Panama City-Balboa (all begin on December 1, 2016)[20] M


Airlines Destinations
Avianca Cargo Miami
DHL Aviation Miami, Los Angeles, Panama City
DHL De Guatemala Guatemala City
FedEx Express Memphis, Panama City
Florida West International Airways Miami
LATAM Cargo Brasil Miami
LATAM Cargo Chile Miami
LATAM Cargo México Mexico City
UPS Airlines Miami


Juan Santamaria International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Costa Rica, having experienced a constant increase in traffic since its opening in 1958, boosted by the growing flow of tourists. The airport reached the million passenger for the first time in 1991 and it has been serving more than four million passengers yearly since 2007. On the other hand, domestic passenger have been relatively steady since the beginning, on an average of 200,000 passengers per year and reaching a peak of 330,000 in 1975.

Top international destinations[edit]

Busiest international routes from SJO (Jan. 2014 – Dec. 2014)[21]
Rank Airport Passengers Change 2013/2014 Carriers
1 Panama City, Panama 548,141 Increase08.2% Avianca, Copa
2 Houston, United States 491,993 Increase014.0% Spirit, United
3 Miami, United States 454,780 Decrease010.2% American Airlines
4 Atlanta, United States 341,683 Increase05.4% Delta
5 San Salvador, El Salvador 270,766 Decrease05.9% Avianca, Veca
6 Mexico City, Mexico 240,150 Decrease02.7% Aeroméxico, Interjet
7 Guatemala City, Guatemala 208,515 Increase06.5% Avianca, Copa
8 Madrid, Spain 208,171 Increase010.4% Iberia[22]
9 Newark, United States 192,703 Decrease08.7% United
10 Fort Lauderdale, United States 168,123 Increase04.4% Jetblue, Spirit

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On May 23, 1988 a leased Boeing 727-100 (TI-LRC) operating the route San Jose-Managua-Miami, collided with a fence at the end of the runway in the Juan Santamaria International Airport, crashed at a nearby field next to a highway, and caught fire. The excess of weight in the front part of the airplane was the cause of the accident. There were no fatalities out of the 23 occupants.
  • On January 16, 1990, SANSA Flight 32 crashed into the Cerro Cedral, a mountain shortly after take off from Juan Santamaria International Airport. All 20 passengers and 3 crew on board died in the crash.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ AIP - Part 3 Aerodromes
  2. ^ (Spanish) Resumen Estadístico 2015 (Cifras Preliminares)
  3. ^ Delgado, Edgar (1999-01-28). "Concorde impuso récord". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  4. ^ Ponchner, Debbie (2005-07-02). "Hoy despega de suelo tico la misión TCSP de la NASA". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  5. ^ Ponchner, Debbie (2007-05-05). "NASA realizará gran misión científica desde suelo tico". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  6. ^ "ASQ Award for Best Airport in Latin America - Caribbean" Airports Council International. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-13
  7. ^ Calvo, Rodrigo (2011-03-27). "Los mil rostros de La Sabana". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  8. ^ "En primber debate fueron aprobados el Arancel de Aduanas y la Ley de Pagos Internacionales". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 1951-11-26. 
  9. ^ a b Rojas, Ronny (2008-07-09). "El Santamaría incumple normas de seguridad". Al Dia (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  10. ^ "Hace 50 años, Sábado 11 de marzo de 1961". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 2011-03-11. 
  11. ^ a b Feigenblatt, Hazel (2001-05-05). "Aeropuerto a manos privadas hoy". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  12. ^ Loaiza, Vanessa (2002-03-15). "Suspenden obras en aeropuerto". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  13. ^ a b Loaiza, Vanessa (2009-12-04). "BID presta $45 millones para ampliar Juan Santamaría". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  14. ^ Loaiza, Vanessa (2010-11-10). "Concluye modernización de aeropuerto Santamaría". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 
  15. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/story/air-canada-rouge-gears-up-for-winter-2016-2017-with-new-non-stop-flights-montreal-to-puerto-vallarta-mexico-and-san-jos-costa-rica-toronto-to-palm-springs-ca-and-port-of-spain-trinidad-and- tobago-2016-04-20?mod=mw_share_facebook
  16. ^ "San José, the new Air France destination in Costa Rica" (Press release). Air France. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016. 
  17. ^ http://www.routesonline.com/news/29/breaking-news/253423/condor-expands-in-the-americas-with-new-frankfurt-and-munich-winter-links/
  18. ^ http://www.nacion.com/economia/empresarial/Edelweiss-aerolineas-Suiza-Europa-ICT-Mauricio_Ventura_0_1568043241.html
  19. ^ "Plus Ultra Files New Preliminary Long-Haul Schedules from July 2016". routesonline. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  20. ^ a b http://www.routesonline.com/news/38/airlineroute/269443/wingo-outlines-initial-operation-from-dec-2016/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+airlineroutenews+(Airlineroute)
  21. ^ (Spanish)"Anuario Estadístico de Transporte Aéreo 2014" (PDF). dgac.go.cr. Retrieved 2016-05-01. 
  22. ^ http://www.aena.es/csee/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1113582476715&pagename=Estadisticas%2FEstadisticas

External links[edit]