Tocumen expansion

Expansion works underway at Panama's Tocumen Airport.

Expansion works are currently underway to increase the capacity of the International Airport of Tocumen in Panama. The project, launched in 2012 and partially completed in January 2019, includes significant infrastructure improvements.

Tocumen Airport is one of main international hubs in Latin America, due to its privileged geographical position in the continent, connecting North and South America. The airport, currently operating at 40% of its capacity following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosts 23 airline carriers, serving 85 routes to 37 countries. Following the completion of the works, the airport will have 54 gates and 12 remote stations.

An executive at a regional airline confirmed, “Tocumen is a strategic hub for the whole region. It efficiently connects about 90 cities around the world with the rest of Latin America and the expansion will allow this to increase to over 100 cities. This echoes the ‘Hub’ role that Panama also plays in cargo, via the canal, and in telecommunications too.”

“Tocumen is a strategic hub for the whole region. It efficiently connects about 90 cities around the world with the rest of Latin America and the expansion will allow this to increase to over 100 cities.”

Executive, regional airline, Panama

The works include waterproofing construction materials, new passenger waiting areas, boarding gates and improved border control checkpoints, among others. The works for the new 116,000 square metre terminal were 99% complete in February 2020, but remain unfinished.

The exact date for its final completion remains unclear but a Tocumen S.A. spokesperson told us, “We are expecting the new Terminal 2 to be fully operational in March 2022. Along with the expansion of the Panama Canal, mining developments and Metro Lines, the Tocumen expansion is among the largest infrastructure works carried out in Panama for 10 years.”

“Although it is still a difficult time for the air transport industry there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are hoping for a decade of growth.”

Spokesperson, Tocumen S.A., Panama

Disagreements over the completion of the works led Panama to cancel the terminal expansion contract with Brazilian company CNO S.A., formerly known as Odebrecht, for non-compliance and breach of obligations, on 28 September 2021. Moreover, the cost of the new terminal increased from the original USD 679 million to USD 917 million. 

Tocumen International Airport S.A., the operator of the airport, has already notified the insurance company ASSA Compañía de Seguros S.A. about the contract breach with the aim of securing a USD 229 million performance bond to complete the work. CNO S.A. has requested an extension until 31 December 2021.

Beyond the current works, Tocumen has further expansion plans, according to the spokesman, “We have a master plan out to 2035 which includes a new Logistics Zone and even a new runway. We are starting to see air travel recover again and although it is still a difficult time for the air transport industry, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are hoping for a decade of growth.”

 

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