Located in Central America with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica has a population of less than five million, which is about 20% bigger than Switzerland. According to OAG data for September it has 14 airports with scheduled services, although 11 of them handle only domestic traffic. The country’s biggest airport is San José (SJO) which serves the capital. It handled 3.73 million passengers in 2009, down 9.3% from 2008. According to civil aviation authority statistics the country’s airports in total handled 4.21 million passengers; the city of Liberia (LIR) is the second busiest with just under 400,000 passengers in 2009.
San José served by six US carriers
Analysis of schedule data for September shows that the biggest airline at San José airport is LACSA, the national airline of Costa Rica (and part of the TACA Group of airlines), which operates a fleet of 15 narrowbody Airbus aircraft and six Embraer E-190s. Apart from regional destinations LACSA serves three destinations in the US; Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK. Sansa operates domestic flights with 12-seat Cessna Grand Caravans and is a wholly owned subsidiary of LACSA making it part of Grupo TACA as well.
The US is by far the leading country market with 90 weekly departures and almost 15,000 weekly seats, over twice as big as the next biggest country market Panama, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. American Airlines has direct flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Miami, Continental from Houston and Newark, Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, Delta from Atlanta, JetBlue from Orlando and US Airways from Charlotte.
Non-stop flights to Europe with Iberia
The only carrier offering non-stop flights to Europe is Iberia which flies daily from Madrid. German leisure airline Condor offers twice-weekly flights to San Jose via the Dominican Republic, while Jetairfly has weekly non-stop flights from Brussels to Liberia.
Starting in mid-November airberlin will operate flights every two weeks to Liberia via Cancun, at least until the end of next April. Other new services coming soon to Liberia are JetBlue’s New York JFK service (starts 17 November), and Delta to Minneapolis/St. Paul (starts 7 January 2012).