Puerto Plata’s Gregorio Luperon Airport is set to reopen on May 20th, following a 10-day renovation of runway 0826 to accommodate larger aircraft.
Currently, the airport is a hub for flights from U.S destinations, including New York, Miami and Boston. Top airlines that operate from the airport such as American Airlines, JetBlue and United are expected to stop outgoing flights from the 5th of May until a full renovation is completed.
The Dominican government purposefully planned the renovation between the 5th and 20th of May so as not to interfere with flights to the island during the peak tourist season of December to April, with over 600,000 tourists visiting the country last month alone. This has led to 40 flights from the U.S and other international locations being rerouted to other airports on the island.
The country’s airport authority stated that this two-week period contained the smallest passenger traffic numbers, making it a favourable time for structural improvements.
There is not expected to be any delay in construction at this time.
Carlos Rodoli, the general director of Clúster Norte airports, indicated how important the intense period of restoration was for the landing strip: “Historically, the resistance of the pavement has been degrading…We don’t want any technical difficulties with operations in Puerto Plata”.
The actual re-construction is set to transform 12 slabs of the runway with asphalt and concrete, with the dimensions of 530 linear meters long by 45 meters wide.
This amount of work required a RD $160 million investment by the Dominican government but is hoped to bring more tourism into the country on a long-term basis. There are talks of completing further renovations on turning rackets and remodelling additional sections of the runway by 2023, but the Dominican government has yet to reveal a plan for it.
Rodoli also announced that a JetBlue flight would re-open the airport terminal at 10.30 am on May 20th, upon completion of the repaired runway. The low-cost American air carrier flies from New York’s JFK Airport to 10 locations in the Dominican Republic, including Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo. As of May 1st, the airline has been involved in talks with the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) and the Junta de Aviacion Civil (JAC), over making its services more cost-effective for customers flying between the U.S and the Dominican Republic.
With its first flight on May 20th after the two-week no-fly period in Gregoria Luperon Airport, JetBlue will aim to implement the reduction of airfare, the inclusion of the first bag free of charge, and the termination of the tourist card charge for Dominicans re-entering the country. After reports emerged that JetBlue had faced complaints about flight delays and below-average customer service, the airline is striving to make improvements in time for the re-opening of the landing strip.
The airline also aims to set a fare of US$500 including taxes, which would benefit Dominicans living around the world who wish to fly to the country,
The acting general director of the IDAC, Héctor Porcella, also disclosed that representatives from JetBlue had recently met with Dominican president Luis Abinader to discuss the implementation of measures increasing flights for Dominican communities living in the U.S and elsewhere.
Whilst the landing strip will be closed to all passenger airlines for the duration of the 2 week period, the helipad at Georgio Luperon will remain fully operational at this time. Tourists who were supposed to fly into Georgio Luperon over this two-week period or catch a connecting flight in the region have been advised to check their flight details for any changes or updates given.
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