Jorge Chávez International Airport

Posted: 5 April 2010 | Mr. Jaime Daly, CEO, Lima Airport Partners | No comments yet

When it was opened on December 30 1965, Jorge Chávez, in addition to the facilities commonly associated with an international airport, boasted a fully-staffed crèche, equipped with special seating, playpens and toys, as well as a mezzanine nightclub able to cater to 310 diners and decorated with stylised Inca drapes. A four-metre high replica of the Chavín Stela, created by the Paris-based interior designer Max Ingrand, formed the centerpiece of the arrivals area.

When it was opened on December 30 1965, Jorge Chávez, in addition to the facilities commonly associated with an international airport, boasted a fully-staffed crèche, equipped with special seating, playpens and toys, as well as a mezzanine nightclub able to cater to 310 diners and decorated with stylised Inca drapes. A four-metre high replica of the Chavín Stela, created by the Paris-based interior designer Max Ingrand, formed the centerpiece of the arrivals area.

In the 1960s, 15 international airlines from all over the world used the airport, with many of them arriving in great style, none more so than the Lufthansa Lockheed Super Constellation, which landed on March 23 1962, bringing with it 96 members of the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra, which performed two concerts in Lima.

The carrying capacity of the airport was thirteen planes per hour, or roughly one aircraft every five minutes, and 800 passengers per hour. But the new airport was more than just a passenger terminal. It was also a joyous symbol of national progress and modernity. The intense movement on the runways was mirrored on the dance floor of the Chavín nightclub, which was a great success. International stars performed there, including Paul Anka, who in March 1967 gave two shows at the airport, reportedly transporting his thousands of local fans into a collective state of rapture.

More than 35 years would pass before, in February 2001, Lima Airport Partners became the concession holder of Jorge Chávez. At the beginning of the 21st century, the airport found itself in need of a number of improvements in its infrastructure. The aim was for it to recover its position as a regional market leader, and to that end the Peruvian state ruled that during the ‘Initial Period’ of the project – from February 2001 to December 2008 – LAP should carry out all the obligatory improvements required of the concession holder under the terms of the concession contract.

Currently, the principal LAP shareholder is Fraport AG, the German airport operator which runs Frankfurt Airport and other important airports in Egypt, Bulgaria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, Senegal and India. The other two partners are the International Finance Corporation, which is a member of the World Bank Group, and AC Capitales SAFI, a major Peruvian investment fund.

The first stage of work was completed in February 2005. The passenger terminal, which in 2001 covered an area of 39,467 square metres, was almost doubled in size to 65,528 square metres. In addition, the existing infrastructure was completely renovated; seven modern boarding bridges were installed and many other improvements were introduced. In this way, four decades after its inauguration, Jorge Chávez International Airport reestablished its position as a leader among the region’s airports and presented to the world a modern, safe and efficient airport.

The construction work associated with the ‘Initial Period’ of the project was completed by the end of December 2008. Today, the passenger terminal covers an area of 84,570 square metres and the platform, which in 2001 measured just 165,000 square metres, is now 304,881 square metres in extension and accommodates 39 aircraft parking positions. In addition, 12 additional boarding bridges have been installed in the enlarged domestic and international terminals, bringing the total number of boarding bridges at Jorge Chávez to 19.

The retail area is composed of more than 60 stores offering traditional Peruvian artisanal products of the very highest quality, including gold and silver jewellery, weavings and textiles made from alpaca and vicuña wool, and traditional Peruvian pisco. With the arrival of new operators in 2010, the range of products and services on offer will be widened even further.

Nine years after the Jorge Chávez con – cession was awarded, Peru’s capital city is now home to a world-class, modern, safe and efficient airport which was named by Skytrax Research, the English market research company which specialises in airport-related issues, as the Best Airport in South America 2009. In the same year, it also received the very special distinction of being named the airport with the Best Airport Personnel in the region. Also in 2009, Jorge Chávez was selected as South America’s Leading Airport by The World Travel Awards, described by The Wall Street Journal as the ‘Oscars’ of the travel and tourism industry.

Peru has become the most important interconnection centre for air travel in the region by virtue of its strategic location, with the nation’s capital conveniently located at the heart of the country, on the coast and at sea level. In addition, of course, Peru is rich in natural resources and known and admired throughout the world for its incomparable past. As well as being home to Machu Picchu, one of the ‘Seven New Wonders of the World’, the Inca and colonial splendor of Cuzco and some of the world’s most pristine rainforests, the country is currently experiencing the highest rate of economic growth in Latin America. These factors have combined to make Lima one of the favorite tourist and business destinations for travellers from Latin America, North America and Europe.

In recent years, as a result of the growing global popularity of Peruvian cuisine, Lima has been hailed as the gastronomic capital of the Americas. In the past, tourists tended to see Lima as an obligatory stage in their journey to Cuzco; today visitors opt to stay in the city for a few days to savour the culinary arts of a new generation of young chefs.

In spite of recent global economic uncertainty, Peru continues to consolidate its position as one of the most robust economies in Latin America. Figures released by the investment bank Credit Suisse indicate that Peru’s economy is set to grow by 5% during 2010, thereby leading the recovery of Latin America’s economies. Inflation is projected at just 2.5% this year, making it the lowest in the region.

In recent years, the main destinations for Peruvian exports have been the United States, China and the European Union. The signing of new free trade agreements with these economic superpowers will provide improved access for Peruvian products to a potential market of more than two billion consumers, and as a consequence the nation’s GDP is expected to rise to US$ 31.6 billion.

For the world’s travellers, Jorge Chávez International Airport is the gateway to the many natural wonders of Peru, which are not limited to Cuzco. Peru is also home to Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, while Colca is one of the planet’s deepest canyons and more than 60% of this country, famed for its magnificent Andean scenery, is actually covered by pristine Amazon forests, rich in biological diversity.

South America’s hub

The privileged location of Peru’s main airport at sea level and with optimum climatic conditions practically throughout the year, combined with the efficient service offered to airlines for both their commercial and cargo operations, make Jorge Chávez the ideal hub for the entire region. LAN and TACA, two leading non-Peruvian airlines, have chosen Lima as their cargo and passenger distribution centre. Over the past three years, these two leading regional carriers have recorded growth of 17.0% and 10.1%, respectively, in a clear reflection of the benefits they have enjoyed after centralising their South American operations in the Peruvian capital. Airlines are attracted to Jorge Chávez by both its first class infrastructure and its highly efficient operating times, with a turnaround of around 25 minutes.

By December 2009, 20 airlines were pro – viding regular services to and from Lima. Fifteen international carriers operate 401 weekly frequencies in Lima, while five domestic carriers operate 443 weekly frequencies.

In 2009, more than 232,000 metric tonnes of cargo passed through Jorge Chávez International airport, while it also received 8.8 million arrival, departure and connecting passengers. Passenger figures are expected to grow by 3% in 2010.

Between January and December 2009, 29 international destinations and 16 domestic destinations were served from Jorge Chávez International Airport, while LAN and TACA inaugurated 10 new routes from Lima.

During the same period, international air traffic to and from Lima recorded a load factor of more than 70%. The load factor for domestic flights is similar to that recorded for inter – national flights, at around 73%. Nevertheless, some regions, in particular Europe and North America, recorded load factors in excess of 80%, making it clear that there is enough potential demand to justify airlines increasing the frequency of their departures.

In terms of domestic services, the privatisation of Peru’s regional airports has clearly had a positive impact on improvements in services and connectivity. Because Peru remains a highly centralised nation, the capital is the obligatory hub for domestic flights, and practically all destinations are served from Lima or via Lima.

Undoubtedly, it is the marked improvement in its infrastructure which has been the key factor in the process of growth and regional consolidation experienced by Jorge Chávez. Since it took over the concession to run the nation’s main airport, Lima Airport Partners has invested 270 million dollars. The domestic and international terminals, as well as the airport’s cargo and airmail centre, its fuel plant, the hotel and the enlarged aircraft platform are all totally new constructions, while the existing infrastructure has also been expanded and modernised.

At the same time, the internationally recognised expertise of Fraport in terms of airport operations has enriched the level of service at Jorge Chávez. Today the airport offers its passengers the highest standards of service, as well as optimum operating conditions for the airlines, secondary operators and commercial concessions who are its clients.

Looking towards the future, Lima Airport Partners remains focused on the continued growth and expansion of Jorge Chávez. Plans are already underway for the construction of a second runway, for which the Peruvian government has undertaken to provide LAP with an additional seven million square metres of land. The Peruvian government is working actively to provide the land needed for the airport’s expansion by February 2013, and the runway will be operational five years after LAP receives all of the land in question. The second runway will be served by an enlarged passenger terminal, designed to meet growing demand.

Plans also exist to take full advantage of the airport’s proximity to the port of Callao. Peru’s main port is situated less than five kilometres from the airport, and the proposed logistical and multimodal development of both transport centres would greatly enhance operations at Jorge Chávez. The logistical services centre being planned would strengthen Lima’s position as the transport hub of Latin America even more and require an investment of more than 155 million dollars, which would come from the private sector.

As an active participant in the Route Development Forum, as well as in the meetings organised by this group in the Americas, in February 2010 Lima Airport Partners played host to the regional meeting, Routes Americas, which is the most important networking forum for the airports, airlines and tourism authorities of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It was the first time the event had been held in South America, and it provided an excellent opportunity for route planners to experience for themselves the many factors which make Lima such a uniquely attractive destination.

About the author

Mr. Daly holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a M.S. in Operations Research, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Jaime has 30 years of experience in logistics, airlines, banking, construction and airports. He has also been involved in consulting for the transportation and retail industries, implementing changes and processes to improve the productivity of the resources (manpower, inventory, etc).

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