Skip to content
La Aurora Airport, Guatemala

Guatemalan Government Announces Plan to “Rescue” La Aurora International Airport

Guatemala’s La Aurora International Airport is in dire need of an upgrade. President Arévalo announces a rescue plan with a public-private partnership, but will it be enough to make the airport a tourism hub?

Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo yesterday announced a plan to “rescue” the nation’s La Aurora International Airport. The airport has gotten a significant amount of negative press since the Arévalo administration took over due to its dilapidated condition.

The current administration blamed the previous one over botched public bids to repair and modernize the airport’s equipment and infrastructure. Today’s announcement marks an attempt to make the airport a calling card for what Guatemala could be in terms of investment and tourism potential.

A Private-Public Partnership

The rescue plan calls for a public-private partnership. This partnership is part of a broader initiative to update Guatemala’s crumbling infrastructure. The recent collapse of the Palin-Escuintla highway has underscored the precarious nature of Guatemala’s national infrastructure. As such, the Arévalo administration seeks to salvage whatever it can, as it looks toward moving forward with its agenda.

Yesterday’s announcement came on the heels of the First Airport Infrastructure Congress hosted by Guatemalan tank Fundesa. During his speech at the event, President Arévalo said, “Roads, ports, and airports are linked, sometimes, by the greed and shamelessness of some. Our airport, which should be the most important in Central America, is a clear example of what our government has inherited.”

The words highlight how the Arévalo Administration has spared no expense in blaming its predecessors for the current challenges it faces. However, there is no timetable for any sort of tangible actions. President Arévalo closed his remarks by stating that in the future, the airport will be something Guatemalans can be proud of.

How Bad Is La Aurora International Airport?

Living in Guatemala City, I’ve flown in and out of La Aurora on many occasions. Overall, the airport pales in comparison to other Central American airports like Juan Santamariá or Guanacaste in Costa Rica or Tocumen in Panama City, Panama. While La Aurora is not falling apart, it lacks much of the luster one would expect from an international airport.

Yes, it’s a fully functional airport. However, it is not the calling card the tourism industry would hope. Beyond the usual repairs and maintenance buildings need, the most glaring hole in La Aurora, literally speaking, is the escalator well that lacks a functioning escalator to the lower levels.

That particular escalator set has been the subject of a number of legal battles between the current administration and its predecessors. There is one active case pursued by the public attorney regarding a public bid that was not honoured.

Beyond that, President Arévalo is right to commit to “rescuing” the La Aurora airport. It desperately needs a facelift, while addressing its most urgent glaring needs. Nevertheless, glossing over the airport’s most pressing needs won’t solve the much larger question: The lack of investment in tourism infrastructure.

Sure, La Aurora is a major step toward that. It’s fine to make La Aurora the poster child for this endeavor. But, hopefully, this administration can focus its efforts on setting up Guatemala’s tourism industry for success.

Nestor Quixtan is a Canadian/Guatemalan economist, linguist, and writer. He lives in Guatemala City.

Nestor Quixtan

Nestor Quixtan

Nestor Quixtan is a Canadian/Guatemalan economist, linguist, and writer. He has consulted on numerous writing projects ranging from security and defense to hotel management. His work on women’s discrimination in the labor market has earned him publication in Latin America. He currently lives in Guatemala City.