The Airport of the Pacific is El Salvador’s new airport set to be built in Conchagua, la Union, in the eastern part of El Salvador, near the Gulf of Fonseca.
The new airport in El Salvador started as a campaign promise of President Nayib Bukele to the people of Eastern El Salvador. Construction of the Airport of the Pacific began in March 2023 by drilling and preparing the airport’s land area.
This airport is one of the emblematic projects of the Nayib Bukele Government, contemplated within the Cuscatlan Plan. It will economically enhance the eastern part of the country.
El Salvador’s Airport of the Pacific
The Airport of the Pacific is one of the emblematic projects of the President Nayib Bukele, contemplated within the Cuscatlan Plan.
With this airport, the Government of El Salvador seeks to convert the eastern zone into a pole of economic development, encourage the growing demand for passengers abroad, and develop international tourism to the region.
Additionally, people from the eastern region of El Salvador have to spend over five hours getting to and going back from the Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport. El Salvador’s new airport in La Union would solve this problem.
Planning Stages of the Airport of the Pacific
In March 2020, the government launched a public offering for the study and design of the Pacific Airport Project.
During the process, 44 international companies showed interest, of which 30 were pre-qualified. Finally, 11 companies presented their technical and economic offers to the government.
On 24 February 2022, the government received the results of the studies carried out for the construction of the Pacific Airport in the eastern part of the country. The economic and financial report for the airport was done by Peyco-ALBEN 4000 Consortium, an air transportation company.
Among the most notable positive impacts of the report are the improvement of living conditions, development of tourism in the area, connectivity, and job creation, among others. .
In February 2022, the PEYCO-ALBEN 4000 consortium presented the economic and financial report for the new airport in El Salvador.
“The project will be compatible with the environment, it will generate employment, and promote tourism and economic activities,” stated Alberto Gomez, study manager of PEYCO -ALBEN 400.
During the presentation of this report, the president of the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (CEPA), Federico Anliker, estimates that in the first year of operation of the Pacific Airport, it will generate about 4,700 new jobs, while in the construction phase, around 23,722.
According to the study, it is expected that in the first ten years, approximately one million passengers could pass through the airport, while at the maximum level of operation of the air terminal, three million passengers could be moved.
Approval for the Airport
On April 25, 2022, the Legislative Assembly’s Economic Commission approved a bill that authorizes the construction of the Airport of the Pacific.
With eight votes, the Economy Commission approved the bill so that all legislators at the legislative plenary session know the Law and vote for or against the Construction, Administration, Operation, and Maintenance of the Pacific International Airport.
On the April 26 legislative plenary session, legislators approved and authorized the Executive to build the Pacific Airport in La Union. With 67 votes, the deputies of the Legislative Assembly approved the Law for the Construction, Administration, Operation, and Maintenance of the Pacific International Airport.
On June 21, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly reformed the 2022 Budget Law and incorporated $12 million into the Ministry of Public Works for the execution of the first stage of the Pacific Airport.
According to CEPA, the 12 million dollars comes from tax collection and the fight against tax evasion carried out by the Ministry of Finance.
“Preparing the land where the Airport of the Pacific will be built began in March 2023. “Heavy machinery drilled holes of different depths and dimensions in about 30 plots of land in that sector,” according to El Diario de Hoy Newspaper.
The construction of the Airport of the Pacific in El Salvador has sparked intense controversy. Supporters argue it will boost the economy and tourism, while critics express concerns over environmental impacts, land expropriation, and potential financial strains on the nation.
In October 2022, 10 landowners affected by the airport’s construction communicated that they would not sell their land to the government for the new airport in El Salvador.
CEPA president Anliker assured that they would seek to resettle all the affected residents and accused Bukele’s political opposition of manipulating a group of landowners who have refused to accept the government’s purchase offer.
Federico Anliker and the Minister of Housing Michelle Sol met with the families of the communities where the Pacific Airport will be built to present them with opportunities to improve their living conditions.
In January 2023, Cristosal, a non-government organization, filed suits before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, arguing that three laws regarding the airport’s construction “open the door to corruption and called upon the Supreme Court of Justice to block the laws.
MILPA, the Indigenous Movement for the Integration of the Struggles of the Ancestral Peoples of El Salvador (MILPA), opposes the new airport in El Salvador. The organization claims it violates the people’s right to private property and degrades the area’s environment.
The Pacific airport work will affect about one thousand families from the La Union and Conchagua communities; these communities survive on farming and cultivation of basic grains and vegetables.
Airport of the Pacific, El Salvador’s New Airport
The Airport of the Pacific will drastically impact the region and the people in the La Union region. It will bring tourism, employment, and more opportunities. Not to mention that it will save time for those traveling to and from El Salvador.