Juan Santamaría International Airport

For other airports, see San Jose Airport (disambiguation).
Juan Santamaría
International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional
Juan Santamaría
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Costa Rica
Operator Aeris Holdings Costa Rica under ADC & HAS and Andrade Gutiérrez Concesores
Serves San José, Costa Rica
Location Alajuela Province
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL 921 m / 3,022 ft
Coordinates 09°59′38″N 084°12′32″W / 9.99389°N 84.20889°W / 9.99389; -84.20889Coordinates: 09°59′38″N 084°12′32″W / 9.99389°N 84.20889°W / 9.99389; -84.20889
Website www.fly2sanjose.com

Location in Costa Rica

Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 3,012 9,882 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 4,494,875
Passenger change 14–15 Increase14.7%
Aircraft movements 82,835
Movements change 14–15 Increase8.5%
Source: Costa Rican AIP,[1] DGAC[2]

Juan Santamaría International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría) (IATA: SJO, ICAO: MROC) is the primary airport serving San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The airport is located near the city of Alajuela, 20 km (12 miles) west of downtown San José. It is named after Costa Rica's national hero, Juan Santamaría, a courageous drummer boy who died in 1856 defending his country against forces led by US-American filibuster William Walker.

The airport is hub of local airline Nature Air and Sansa Airlines, and focus city airport for Copa Airlines and Avianca. It was the country's only international gateway for many years, but nowadays there is also an international airport in Liberia, Guanacaste. Both airports have direct flights to North and Central America and Europe, with the difference that Juan Santamaría International Airport also serves cities in South America and the Caribbean.

The airport's main runway allows for operations of large, widebody aircraft. Currently, some scheduled flights are operated with Airbus A330 and A340, and Boeing 747, 767 and 777, for both passengers and freight. A Concorde landed in 1999 for that year's airshow.[3] The airport has also a small hangar (called the "NASA" hangar) where research aircraft are kept that operate in Costa Rica[4] including the Martin B-57 Canberra high altitude aircraft. (This hangar has since been removed as the mission was completed.)[5]

Juan Santamaría International Airport was once the busiest airport in Central America, but currently it is ranked second after Tocumen International Airport in Panamá. In 2015, Juan Santamaría International Airport received 4.5 million passengers (both international and domestic). In 2011, the airport was named the 3rd Best Airport in Latin America - Caribbean from the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council International[6]


The airport was built to replace the previous one in downtown San Jose where Parque La Sabana is located today.[7] Funding was secured by the government in 1951[8] and construction proceed slowly until it was officially inaugurated on May 2, 1958.[9] It was initially called "Aeropuerto Internacional el Coco" after its location of the same name in the province of Alajuela. It would later be renamed in honor of Juan Santamaría. In 1961 funding was secured to build the highway that connects the airport to downtown San José.[10]

No major changes were made to the terminal until November 1997 when the government issued a decree requesting participation of private companies to manage the operations of the airport.[11] After a few years of legal challenges and contract negotiations Alterra Partners was given a 20-year concession and started managing the facilities in May 2001.[11] It was also expected that the company would finish the necessary expansion and construction of new facilities, however in March 2002 Alterra announced it would cease any further construction due to disagreements over financing and airport use fee billing with the government.[12] The dispute was extended for a few years and problems started at the terminal; in 2005 the International Civil Aviation Organization pointed out that the airport did not comply with safety regulations.[9]

In July 2009 Alterra yielded the contract to a consortium composed of Houston-based Canadian-American company ADC & HAS and the Brazilian company, Andrade Gutierrez Concessoes (AGC) - subsidiary of the conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez.[13] In December 2009 Alterra Partners changed its name to AERIS Holdings, S.A.[13] In November 2010 Aeris announced it had finished the expansion and construction of new facilities with the installation of the 9th boarding bridge.[14]

Ground transportation

The road access to the airport is on an exit at Route 1, and near the exit to Alajuela. There is a parking area with surcharge, plus a bus stop with plenty of services to San Jose downtown (with no exact schedule but with 24-hours bus service and approximately one service every 10 minutes during working hours). Licensed taxis are available in the airport and will generally accept both colones and U.S. dollars, but not other currencies. Costa Rican taxis are red with yellow triangles on the doors, ubiquitous all over the country, plus there is a special airport taxi service that is licensed and employs orange taxis.

Terminals and lounges

VIP Lounge Costa Rica.

Main Terminal [M]

The major operator in the airport is Avianca, followed by Copa Airlines. The following airlines have scheduled direct services to and/or from Juan Santamaría International Airport (as of May 2013):

Domestic Terminal [D]

Sansa Airlines and Nature Air flights depart from the Domestic Terminal.

VIP lounges

Airlines and destinations


Current domestic routes from SJO.
Current Americas routes from SJO.
Current European routes from SJO.
Aeroméxico Mexico City M
Air Canada Rouge Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau (begins December 22, 2016)[15]
Air France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle M
Air Panama David, Panama City-Albrook M
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson M
Alaska Airlines Los Angeles M
Albatros Airlines Caracas M
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
Seasonal: Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Avianca Costa Rica Bogotá, Guatemala City, Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Panama City, San Salvador, Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Cancún, New York–JFK, Caracas
Avianca Guatemala Guatemala City, San Andrés, Tegucigalpa M
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador M
British Airways London–Gatwick M
Condor Frankfurt, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Seasonal: Munich
Copa Airlines Guatemala City, Managua, Panama City, Tegucigalpa M
Copa Airlines Colombia Panama City M
Cubana de Aviación Havana M
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles
Seasonal: New York–JFK
Edelweiss Air Zürich (begins May 9, 2017)[16] M
Iberia Madrid M
Interjet Mexico City M
JetBlue Airways Fort Lauderdale, Orlando M
Nature Air Bocas del Toro, Drake Bay, Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Managua, Nosara, Puerto Jiménez, Punta Islita, Quepos, Tamarindo, Tambor, Tortuguero M
Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas Seasonal: Madrid M
Sansa Airlines Costa Esmeralda, Drake Bay, Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Limón, Palmar Sur, Puerto Jiménez, Quepos, San Isidro, Tamarindo, Tambor, Tortuguero D
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Houston–Hobby M
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental M
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Denver
Veca Airlines San Salvador M
Volaris Cancún, Guadalajara M
Volaris Costa Rica Guatemala City M
WestJet Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson M
Wingo Guatemala City, Panama City-Balboa M


Avianca Cargo Miami
DHL Aviation Miami, Los Angeles, Panama City
DHL De Guatemala Guatemala City
FedEx Express Memphis, Panama City
Florida West International Airways Miami
LATAM Cargo Brasil Miami
LATAM Cargo Chile Miami
LATAM Cargo México Mexico City
UPS Airlines Miami


Juan Santamaria International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Costa Rica, having experienced a constant increase in traffic since its opening in 1958, boosted by the growing flow of tourists. The airport reached the million passenger for the first time in 1991 and it has been serving more than four million passengers yearly since 2007. On the other hand, domestic passenger have been relatively steady since the beginning, on an average of 200,000 passengers per year and reaching a peak of 330,000 in 1975.

Top international destinations

Busiest international routes to and from SJO (Jan. 2015 – Dec. 2015)
Airport Arrivals Departures Total 2014-2015 Carriers
1 Panama City, Panama1 381,668 384,295 765,963 Increase43.54% Avianca, Copa
2 Houston, United States2 199,682 210,061 409,743 Increase28.97% Southwest, Spirit, United
3 Miami, United States 191,026 180,056 371,082 Increase7.96% American
4 San Salvador, El Salvador 160,409 162,098 322,507 Increase22.40% Avianca, Veca
5 Mexico City, Mexico 140,915 146,198 287,113 Increase21.02% Aeroméxico, Interjet
6 Fort Lauderdale, United States 134,596 143,561 278,157 Increase65.45% Jetblue, Spirit
7 Atlanta, United States 130,168 115,770 245,938 Increase9.42% Delta
8 Madrid, Spain 108,105 118,182 226,287 Increase16.31% Iberia, Plus Ultra
9 Newark, United States 107,980 95,642 203,622 Increase27.45% United
10 Guatemala City, Guatemala 85,219 82,745 167,964 Decrease19.45% Avianca, Copa
11 Orlando, United States 75,647 82,648 158,295 Increase44.12% Jetblue
12 Bogotá, Colombia 71,768 75,771 147,539 Increase17.85% Avianca
13 Los Angeles, United States 67,930 60,179 128,109 Increase6.81% Alaska, Delta
14 Dallas, United States 53,109 72,054 125,163 Increase15.34% American
15 Managua, Nicaragua 62,583 46,625 109,208 Increase52.14% Avianca, Copa, Nature Air
16 Lima, Perú 38,706 41,491 80,197 Increase13.90% Avianca
17 Charlotte, United States 25,465 26,035 51,500 Decrease3.30% American
18 Tegucigalpa, Honduras 21,228 23,047 44,275 Increase23.97% Avianca, Copa
19 Frankfurt, Germany 20,843 19,486 40,329 Increase28.69% Condor
20 Toronto, Canada 21,047 19,199 40,246 Decrease0.81% Air Canada, Air Transat, WestJet
21 Phoenix, United States 10,790 13,727 24,517 Increase2.57% American
22 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 7,215 6,877 14,092 Increase18.15% Condor
23 Havana, Cuba 5,860 5,732 11,592 Increase664.14%3 Cubana
24 Cancún, Mexico 5,410 5,281 10,691 Increase13.79% Avianca, Volaris
25 San Pedro Sula, Honduras 4,862 5,747 10,609 Decrease63.34%4 Avianca, Copa
Source: Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Air Transportation Statistical Yearbook (Years 2014,[17] and 2015[18]).

^1 Avianca and Copa fly to Panama City-Tocumen Airport, and Air Panama flies to Panama City-Albrook Airport. The data here is for traffic between SJO and all airports in Panama City.
^2 United and Spirit fly to Houston-Intercontinental Airport, and Southwest flies to Houston-Hobby Airport. The data here is for traffic between SJO and all airports in Houston.
^3 The direct flight between SJO and Havana started on November 16, 2014.
^4 Currently there are not direct flights between SJO and San Pedro Sula. The last flight from Copa was cancelled on June 23, 2015.

Accidents and incidents


See also


  1. AIP - Part 3 Aerodromes
  2. (Spanish) Anuario Estadístico de Transporte Aéreo 2015
  3. Delgado, Edgar (1999-01-28). "Concorde impuso récord". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  4. Ponchner, Debbie (2005-07-02). "Hoy despega de suelo tico la misión TCSP de la NASA". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  5. Ponchner, Debbie (2007-05-05). "NASA realizará gran misión científica desde suelo tico". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  6. "ASQ Award for Best Airport in Latin America - Caribbean" Airports Council International. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-13
  7. Calvo, Rodrigo (2011-03-27). "Los mil rostros de La Sabana". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  8. "En primber debate fueron aprobados el Arancel de Aduanas y la Ley de Pagos Internacionales". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 1951-11-26.
  9. 1 2 Rojas, Ronny (2008-07-09). "El Santamaría incumple normas de seguridad". Al Dia (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  10. "Hace 50 años, Sábado 11 de marzo de 1961". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica. 2011-03-11.
  11. 1 2 Feigenblatt, Hazel (2001-05-05). "Aeropuerto a manos privadas hoy". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  12. Loaiza, Vanessa (2002-03-15). "Suspenden obras en aeropuerto". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  13. 1 2 Loaiza, Vanessa (2009-12-04). "BID presta $45 millones para ampliar Juan Santamaría". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  14. Loaiza, Vanessa (2010-11-10). "Concluye modernización de aeropuerto Santamaría". La Nacion (in Spanish). Costa Rica.
  15. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/air-canada-rouge-gears-up-for-winter-2016-2017-with-new-non-stop-flights-montreal-to-puerto-vallarta-mexico-and-san-jos-costa-rica-toronto-to-palm-springs-ca-and-port-of-spain-trinidad-and- tobago-2016-04-20?mod=mw_share_facebook
  16. http://www.nacion.com/economia/empresarial/Edelweiss-aerolineas-Suiza-Europa-ICT-Mauricio_Ventura_0_1568043241.html
  17. Anuario Estadístico de Transporte Aéreo 2014. Dirección General de Aviación Civil de Costa Rica
  18. Anuario Estadístico de Transporte Aéreo 2015. Dirección General de Aviación Civil de Costa Rica
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