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A staff shortage forced the suspension of flights at the Guanacaste Airport

At least six flights and many passengers were affected this Saturday

par Yves Pepito Malette
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Guanacaste Airport in Costa Rica, also known as Daniel Oduber Airport, experienced a brief halt in its operations this Saturday, March 22, due to staff shortages.

The temporary suspension, which lasted from 9:50 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., affected at least six flights, including two departures and four arrivals. During this period, the airport remained open to ambulance flights only, according to internal communications from Coriport, the company managing the terminal.

The decision to pause operations was confirmed by Juan Carlos Quesada, an air traffic controller and treasurer of the controllers’ union, in a conversation with the Costa Rican media El Observador.

The root issue was identified as a significant lack of personnel in the control tower, prompting the airport authorities to implement a temporary closure as a solution.

Quesada noted that the staffing issue had been ongoing, leading to a decision to adjust the airport’s operating hours. Starting Sunday, the airport will operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., a reduction from its previous closing time of midnight. This change is a direct consequence of the staffing challenges faced by the controllers, who have been compensated at lower rates for years.

«While I appreciate the emphasis on safety due to the personnel shortage, the lack of immediate support for rebooking or accommodation was disappointing. It’s crucial for the airport to have a better contingency plan for such situations.»

– Jennifer Cooper, travelling from New York to Costa Rica

The situation has drawn attention from various governmental bodies, including the Civil Aviation Directorate General (DGAC), the Civil Aviation Technical Council (Cetac), the Civil Service, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), and the Ministry of Planning (Mideplan). Despite their involvement, no effective solution has been reached, leaving the airport and its operations in a precarious state.

Additionally, Coriport has highlighted a separate but related issue of insufficient personnel for Migration or security services, attributing this to a lack of state responsibility. This problem, coupled with the control tower staff shortages, impacts the overall experience and service provided to tourists at what is considered Costa Rica’s «premium» airport.

The Minister of Tourism, William Rodríguez, has expressed concerns over the airport’s capacity to handle the current volume of tourists. He points out that the terminal’s size and the level of service offered are not up to par with what is expected at a leading tourist destination, underscoring the need for immediate attention to these staffing issues to ensure a smooth travel experience for visitors to Guanacaste and Costa Rica.

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