Chile is readying a strategy to expand its airport infrastructure in order to deal with rapidly increasing passenger traffic, a plan that includes renewing the concessions for several airports and modernizing secondary domestic terminals.
During a conference held at the engineers’ guild in Santiago Claudia Carvallo, advisor to the public works ministry’s (MOP) airport division, said the government plans to tender studies to determine the infrastructure shortfalls in the airport network.
The first of the studies will be tendered at the end of this year, and will cover the airports of the central-south zone (Los Ángeles, Chillán, Pucón, Valdivia, Araucanía and Concepción).
«The idea behind these studies is to detect infrastructure deficits for commercial operations, as there aren’t commercial operation at Los Ángeles, Chillán and Pucón, but these are destinations that low cost airlines are interested in,» Carvallo said.
Another part of the plan is the development of airport master plans. The official said that the drawing up of these plans will also be tendered by zones, with the first bidding process starting by year-end.
On concessions, the government is looking to «jumpstart public-private alliances» and that, for the first time in Chile, authorities are mulling tendering concession packages that would include more than one airport, according to Carvallo.
Carvallo unveiled the long-term plan for the airports that currently operate under concessions, with the exception of Calama’s El Loa which was not mentioned:
- Chacalluta (Arica and Parinacota)
2nd concession to be tendered next month.
Works under new concession: Expansion of airport to 10,000m2. Expansion of aircraft parking space. Expansion of parking lot. New aeronautic complex. Works expected to begin in 2020.
- Iquique’s Diego Aracena (Tarapacá)
4th concession awarded last year to APORT
Works under new concession: Expansion of terminal to 20,000m2. Adding 3,000m2 of aeronautic installations.
- Andrés Savella airport (Antofagasta)
Expansion of airport runway to be executed by MOP instead of concessionaire.
Concessionaire Aport is developing a real state project in the area of the concession. It entails the construction of several installations to give logistical support to the airport. The works will be financed by the concessionaire in exchange of a «small extension» of its contract, Carvallo said. Installations include a new cargo area and a bus terminal.
- Copiapó’s Desierto de Atacama (Atacama)
Preliminary project for 2nd concession to be tendered at the end of this year. This draft will serve as reference for the upcoming concession tender.
- La Serena (Coquimbo)
New concession to be tendered next year.
MOP ruled out a project to build a new terminal at Tongoy. Carvallo said «both projects are profitable but [the new La Serena concession] is more profitable.»
Works under new concession: Expansion of erminal to 10,000m2.
- Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez (Metropolitana)
Concession awarded in 2015 to consortium Nuevo Pudahuel.
Works in progress. Construction of new 157,000m2 international passenger terminal. Expansion of existing terminal by 9,000m2. Expandiing parking lot. Addition of five boarding bridges.
Carvallo added that the concession has an «investment trigger» in case of the need for further expansions. To that end, MOP is seeking to expropriate 640ha of land.
- Concepción’s Carriel Sur (Biobío)
Works in progress: Expansion of airport surface area to 12,000m2. Works expected to finish next year.
- Puerto Montt’s El Tepual (Los Lagos)
Works under new concession: increasing the airport surface area to 16,000m2. Adding a new boarding bridge. Adding new positions for planes and expanding parking lots. Works are expected to start next year.
Works outside of concession: New runway. MOP plans to tender the design of the runway this year.
- Balmaceda (Aysén, currently operated by MOP’s airport division)
1st concession planned to be tendered alongside Carlos Ibañez del Campo airport. Tender planned for April 2019.
Works: Construction of new terminal. Upgrade of existing terminal.
- Punta Arenas’ Carlos Ibañez del Campo (Magallanes)
3rd concession planned to be tendered alongside Balmaceda airport in April 2019.
Works under new concession: Expanding terminal to 15,000m2.
Due to the pressure from low cost airlines, Carvallo said that MOP is also planning to improve the infrastructure of smaller airports.
The ministry is planning to tender studies to expand the airports of Viña del Mar and Easter Island (both in Valparaíso region), with the expansion of the latter estimated to cost 55bn pesos (US$86mn). The MOP official said the plan is still under evaluation, as it would demand resources from other ministries.
In the Santiago area, Carvallo said the ongoing construction of the Peldehue civil airfield is 50% complete and is expected to finish in July 2019.
Meanwhile, the airport of Pucón (Araucanía region) will be part of the first infrastructure study to be tendered, as it was considered a priority destination by low cost airline Jet-Smart, along with Viña del Mar, Carvallo said.
Finally, in Los Largos region, MOP will tender a US$32mn project to modernize Mocopulli airport on Chiloé island next year.
When consulted by BNamericas regarding the possibility of reconditioning air bases for commercial use, as was done in Argentina to accommodate low cost airlines, Carvallo said that «the possibility exists, but even so these low cost airlines are more interested in the small airports, because of their location.»