More than 520 flights arrived and took off from Punta Cana International Airport this week, setting a new all-time record as the resort town heads into the busy Holiday season. Officials are expecting a record-breaking year for tourism in Punta Cana as more and more airlines launch new Dominican Republic flights.
Air traffic numbers are up by nearly 9% compared to last week, and airport officials say figures are likely to continue to grow throughout December. Travelers are once again flocking to the likes of Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and La Romana International Airport following years of COVID-19-imposed travel restrictions, ushering in a new age for international travel.
Whilst the Dominican Republic is home to several large international airports, Punta Cana sees by far the highest amount of air traffic, and the city handles nearly 70% of all international arrivals in the country. This week, more than 526 flights landed or departed from the busy airport, smashing the city’s previous air traffic record.
Airport statistics reveal a sharp increase in the number of planes touching down and taking off from Punta Cana International Airport this December. The projections are in line with what authorities have previously described as a record-breaking winter travel season. Compared to early December, the week spanning from December 12 to 18 is expected to see 40 more flights, and that number is projected to further increase over Christmas.
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Earlier this month, David Collado, the Dominican Republic Minister for Tourism had said that the country is on the verge of breaking its previous record for one-month passenger arrivals – set in July this year – by a considerable margin. Overall, the sun-soaked island is due to welcome some 7.5 million international travelers by the end of the year, making the Dominican Republic one of the most popular Caribbean destinations.
With record-shattering travel numbers and intense air traffic, officials across the Dominican Republic are putting new measures in place to cope with congested airports. Authorities recently activated special airport protocols during the winter season, which will facilitate the arrival and departure of millions of passengers. Meanwhile, airlines have warned departing passengers to arrive at the airport up to three hours prior to their flight.
Despite adding more staff to busy check-in counters and security lines, several airlines have struggled with delays and cancellations at Las Américas International Airport this year. The issues have been especially prominent for U.S.-based JetBlue, which has come under fire from angry passengers after some aircraft were left waiting on the tarmac for hours.
Punta Cana International Airport is currently in the final stages of a massive makeover that is due to add 7 new boarding bridges to the popular airport, potentially boosting arrival numbers by more than 3 million passengers. The renovation is part of a wider investment package that will also add more commercial and logistic centers across Punta Cana in an attempt to diversify the local economy.
The airport, one of the first to be privately run in the world, handles some 7 million passengers per year, making it the largest in the country ahead of the capital’s Las Américas International Airport. This year, Punta Cana’s airport was ranked the best medium-sized airport in Latin America and the Caribbean, a testament to the excellent service, safety, and efficiency that the airport is known for.
Meanwhile, La Romana International Airport is also undergoing a renovation, and Puerto Plata airport’s runway was reopened earlier this year after extensive repairs. Officials and investors are currently in talks over building a new airport in Pedernales, southwestern Dominican Republic.
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