New proposal for airport in Ancash near Catac raises questions

L ast year Eleazar Espinoza brought up the idea of constructing a new airport near Huaraz. The man who unsuccessfully ran for mayor during the 2014 elections thought he found the key to give tourism a boost. A month ago, a Private Public Partnership and government meeting was held to promote strategic investments in Public and Private Partnership within the Huanuco region. At the meeting the Regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism in Ancash (DIRCETUR Ancash) and the International Cooperation Agency of the Regional Government Ancash were present. DIRECETUR presented, along with their technical team, two emblematic new projects. One is the construction of a shared bus terminal (like Cusco, Arequipa and Puno or Plaza Norte has in Peru) and the construction of an international airport in the District of Catac. The last idea was presented to representatives of People’s Republic of China, and it has been reported that representatives were very interested in the possibility of an investment. Thirty per cent of the investment would be contributed by the regional government of Ancash and the remaining 70% would be chipped in by Chinese investors.

A combined bus terminal could possibly bring a solution to the informality at the interprovincial bus terminals in Huaraz as touts and lousy taxi drives still hang around to pick up naïve tourists with the only purpose to make as much money as possible. As for the airport, although your editor first thought this might be a great idea as he published in one of his forewords last year, now seems not doable at all. Huaraz has an airport at Anta, 40 km from the city with one daily flight from and to the capital. A second one would need enough demand to make it feasible. Tourist numbers in Huaraz have been falling year after year and it seems that 2015 is the worst year the last decade. A flight to Lima costs approximately U$ 100, whereas by bus the price is around U$ 17.50. The airport at Anta is used mainly to ship gold, silver and copper out of the region and not for domestic flights. Also, no one in Huaraz has ever seen any technical plans or investigations that support the construction of a second airport, and last but not least no one really knows if these Chinese investors really exist.

Maybe we should compare the idea of a second airport near Huaraz with the plans of an international airport at Pisco (south of Lima). The plans of this airport at Pisco have not generated much expectation in the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and its future is troubled. Peter Cerda, regional vice president for the Americas of the organization, told El Comercio that the location of the air terminal, about 250 kilometers from Lima, can work against as it is still too close to the Jorge Chavez airport to be attractive for airlines that make international flights. He added: ¨We have not heard of any airline, at least one that is a member of IATA, seeking to operate connections between Peru and abroad using as a base to Pisco. With three-hour drive from Lima, I think the Jorge Chavez may remain the first choice.” Cerda also said that a sky-high 99% of international traffic reaching Peru passes through Lima. The decentralization of supply of alternate airports to the capital should be done strategically and the airlines and its users should be taken into account.

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