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OPIC Board Approves $55 Million for Improvements to Hub Airport in Costa Rica

January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved $55 million to support the expansion of Costa Rica’s international airport – a major transportation hub in Central America and an asset critical to the country’s tourism potential. The project was approved by a notational vote by the Board.

 The OPIC loan will enable a consortium led by HAS Development Corporation (HASDC), a Texas non-profit corporation, to complete renovations to the Juan Santamaría International Airport outside San José. Renovations will include a terminal extension to permanently house security, immigration and customs processing, additional hold rooms and additional remote parking positions.

“Airports are important assets for economic development in emerging markets, providing connectivity to greater regions, and spurring growth. This expansion project will enable Costa Rica’s international airport to accommodate greater traffic and thereby support growth in sectors like tourism and manufacturing economy.” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.

The airport is the second-busiest in Central America, serving approximately 3.5 million passengers annually. Within Latin America, Costa Rica has experienced one of the fastest growth rates for passenger traffic: the 1997-2007 average growth rates for 14 Latin American countries were five percent, compared to 7.3 percent for the Costa Rica. The growth reflects the country’s tourism potential; the sector historically accounts for 14 percent of Costa Rica’s GDP.

The expansion will generate nearly 150 permanent local jobs, including 15 managerial positions, 85 professional and technical staff and 47 unskilled positions.