Costa Rica’s New International Airport in Orotina Should Be Completed By 2050… Maybe…

Ten years ago in 2005 I wrote an article about Costa Rica’s Invisible New International Airport (??)

At that time I emailed my friend Sr. Federico Carrillo Zurcher who was the Costa Rica Minister Of Finance.

Federico has been good to me and was kind enough to write the introductions to both of my books: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa as well as my first book, Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore in Bull and Bear Markets.

Screenshot Video: Costa Rica New International Airport in Orotina.


This video was recorded in September 2015. Since that time the technical study has been confirmed.

Apart from being the Minister of Finance at the time, Sr. Federico Carrillo is a trained private pilot, who had been involved in the negotiations regarding the San Jose airport renovations with Alterra Partners and was on the board of the Consejo Tecnico de Aviacion so he had a very good idea of what was going on this country when it comes to aviation matters.

This is what Federico said to me in his email of 1st September 2005:

“An additional international airport in Costa Rica is not a priority at this time. Our first priority is upgrading the San Jose airport and the Liberia airport. We then plan to develop a new airport in the south west (around Golfito) and after that, if the studies show that the demand is there and the budgets are available, we could look at another airport around the Orotina area – maybe in 15-20 years.” Sr. Federico Carrillo Zurcher, Costa Rica – Ministro de Hacienda.

Did I mention that was more than TEN YEARS ago?

Today there is no new international airport in the Southern Zone and there is no new international airport in Orotina. Not even close…

I have no problems with professional salespeople, partly because I have been involved with sales and marketing in various forms for the past 40 years. But, as you will have gathered from my articles, I have a problem with sales people using unsubstantiated information to persuade people to buy their piece of Costa Rica real estate.

One of the popular ‘pitches’ goes along the lines of; “Buy now! Get in on the ground floor before everybody realizes that they are building a new international airport in [insert-the-town-name-here] and you will be able to sell your land for ten times the price you paid for it!”

Unfortunately, the Costa Ricans that I know that have been involved in the real estate business tell me that Costa Rica has already been talking about the “new international airport” for 30 years! Nearly as long as they talked about the new ‘highway’ – which turned out to be a fairly simple 2 lane road – to the beach!

Important Points To Remember About
Costa Rica’s ‘New’ International Airport.

  1. In my humble opinion, the various projections about increased passenger traffic – 8,974,800 in 2020 to 10,879,200 in 2025.– are ridiculously optimistic.
  2. The various authorities have yet to finally choose the 1,200 hectares of land on which to build this new international airport and say that this should now be done by the end of 2017.
  3. In May 2016 the President of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís signed a $1.5 million contract
    with British engineering company Mott MacDonald to conduct technical and financial studies on the new airport. This technical study is expected to take one year although the airport is not expected to open until after 2025. “Costa Rica has the capacity to carry out large projects and this administration is willing to break the stagnation and paralysis we’ve had on moving forward with essential public works,” said President Solís. “These large projects will bring employment and development and are key to strengthening the country’s competitiveness.”
  4. At the present time, the new ‘highway’ from San José to Caldera on the Pacific Coast (for which Costa Rica waited 30 years) is really no more than a two lane road in most places so in order to handle construction, cargo, passenger and maintenance traffic this road would need major improvements to make it at a minimum a 4 lane highway. Past performance is no guarantee of future results but since the new, very humble ‘highway’ (Ruta 27) cost 29 times more than a ‘real’ highway built in Germany ($3.4 million dollars per kilometer in Costa Rica compared to $116,000 per kilometer in Germany) we can expect this to end up being a very substantial sum.
  5. Carlos Segnini, Costa Rica’s Minister of Transport and Public Works agrees with me on this point when he said on the 18th August 2015 that: “It’s almost absurd to think of transporting everything to an expanded airport from the airport (in Orotina) to San Jose. It would be a crazy collapse; so I think they (the airport and the road expansion) should go hand in hand”.
  6. If this does ever come to pass, this would also be the perfect time for Costa Rica to consider rebuilding the railway line between San José and Orotina.

So finally, please remember that these kinds of massive projects take a LONG time to get done in Costa Rica. My guess is “if” we’re lucky, they might finish it sometime around the year 2050, perhaps in time to celebrate my 90th birthday!

Related ‘International Airport’ News.

  • The new airport in Quito, Ecuador which started operations in 2013 sits on 1,500 hectares of land so it’s a similar size to what is being proposed for Orotina, Costa Rica.

    What sort of investment was required for this new airport in Quito, Ecuador? $700 million dollars!

  • Construction started on Mexico’s new international airport (NAICM) in 2016 to replace their old airport. Designed by the famous British architect Norman Foster, this airport will have six runways and be able to handle 120 million passengers per year and will require an investment of more than US$11 billion.




    Clearly Mexico is a much larger country than Costa Rica with passenger traffic of more than ten times that of Costa Rica’s so, let’s use an overall estimated cost of 10% of Mexico’s which would give us a cost of $1.1 billion for the new international airport plus the significant cost of expanding the road between the new airport and San José.

  • Denver International Airport was completed at a cost of $4.8 billion
    , which was nearly $2 billion over budget.
  • Hong Kong’s New International Airport cost $20 billion.
  • Istanbul’s new international is expected to cost $5.6 billion.
  • The total cost Japan’s Kansai International Airport is estimated to be $20 billion.
  • The Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai cost $33 billion.

Costa Rica does not have the money to build this airport now and NOBODY seems to know where the $500 million – $1 billion dollars plus – will come from to build it and, NOBODY has given us any clues where the hundreds of millions of dollars will come from to make all the necessary road improvements that will have to be made…

Scott Oliver's Four Books

Scott Oliver’s Four Books.

Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore and 3. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Raíces en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?

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