Airport officials will temporarily close down Puerto Plata’s Gregorio Luperon Airport for a 10-day period in order to renovate its runway. The airport, which sees flights from various U.S destinations including New York, will undergo a routine renovation of its landing strip to ensure it stays in optimal condition. Once the repairs are complete, the airport will be able to handle larger, wide-body aircraft that can carry more passengers to the Caribbean island. Airlines affected by the move have contacted passengers and rescheduled flights.
The renovation program is expected to start on Monday, May 9, and will last until Friday 20 May, if all goes to plan. In a press release, the country’s airport authority said that the dates were chosen because they are the two weeks with the smallest passenger traffic numbers. The lower number of flights during that period makes it the optimal time for completing the renovation. However, there may be delays in the renovation process, so these dates may change.
As part of the Dominican Republic’s tourism strategy, the airport is expected to receive more large-body aircraft. These larger aircraft can carry more passengers and cover longer distances. According to José Luis López, head of communications of the country’s airport agency, the renovation will “allow us to receive wide-body aircraft without limitations, which will help us expand connections between Puerto Plata and other long-distance destinations”.
Airport officials have been in contact with airlines operating from Gregorio Luperon to notify them of the changes. They are working together to ensure that passenger traffic is minimally interrupted. Up to 40 flights have been rerouted to avoid disruptions to vacationers’ travel plans. Meanwhile, airlines have contacted passengers affected by the overhaul, giving them the chance to re-schedule their flights.
Airline traffic to the airport will be suspended for the duration of the renovations, which are expected to take around ten days. The makeover comes at a cost of 260 million Dominican pesos or nearly 5 million U.S dollars.
Due to the landing strip’s essential role in airport traffic, the premises will remain closed to all passenger airlines until the renovation is complete. However, helicopters will still be allowed to take off and land from the airport. Additionally, the airport wants to ensure the operational security of its premises, which will see more airline traffic in the future. The country is expected to welcome up to 7 million tourists this year, many of whom will enter the country through the Puerto Plata airport.
The main goal of the runway’s remodeling is to improve the quality as well as its ability to handle larger, heavier aircraft. Airports routinely shut down air traffic in order to carry out small improvements to the landing strip’s asphalt, among other features.
Various U.S airlines operate to and from Puerto Plata’s Gregorio Luperón International Airport. JetBlue is the biggest U.S airline to fly there, doing so from its Northern hubs of Newark and New York. United Airlines also flies there from Newark.
It was recently reported that JetBlue, the largest U.S low-cost airline that operates between the two countries, would strive to improve its onboard service. The airline has faced complaints about delayed flights and a poor onboard experience. As part of its commitment to improve passengers’ experience, the airline is expected to hire more than 500 new crew members for its scheduled flights between the U.S and the Dominican Republic.
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