Invasion of the Low-Cost Airlines in Costa Rica

International airports in Costa Rica are seeing a greater influx of passengers who arrive and depart aboard low-cost airlines.


According to a report filed by Oscar Rodriguez of national newspaper La Nacion, 13 percent of the 4.4 million passengers at the Juan Santamaria and Daniel Oduber Quiros international airports flew aboard budget air carriers.  Data compiled by the Directorate of Civil Aviation in Costa Rica indicates that low-cost airlines transported 9.2 percent of 4.2 million air passengers in 2011. This increase is clearly a response to the greater offer presented by discount airlines in our country in recent years. At any given time during the year, ten low-cost airlines choose to offer flights in Costa Rica, but this number climbs during the high season, particularly at the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia, province of Guanacaste.


 Southwest Airlines land in San Jose Costa Rica


The low-cost airlines operating in Costa Rica are based in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The increase in air travelers visiting Costa Rica is directly related to the availability of budget travel options and the business decisions taken by these low-cost carriers to enter our country, which is known to be an expensive destination to fly to.


An official from the National Board of Tourism (ICT) explained to La Nacion that:  The routes from the U.S. -JetBlue from Orlando, Boston and Fort Lauderdale as well as Spirit from South Florida- have opened a new market. The same can be said of Southwest flying from Baltimore and Frontier from Denver. By the end of the year, Southwest and Spirit will fly from Houston.  Mexican airlines Volaris and Interjet are also offering flights to Costa Rica at costs that will please frugal travelers.


This is creating much needed competition in the Central American air travel segment; major carriers such as Avianca are paying attention and offering special offers. Avianca is testing a $249 rate to fly between Central American destinations; this is a breath of fresh air considering that most of these trips usually cost $600.  Interested travelers should expect that low-cost air fares often come with tradeoffs. For example, checked luggage may only be offered at extra cost, and the snacks offered while in the air may consist of a single bag of pretzels and some water.


Source:  The Costa Rica Star / Jaime Lopez / 21 April 2015


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