Curaçao, strategically located between North and South America in the Southern Caribbean Sea, reclaims its position as the gateway to the Americas, Europe and Caribbean with interesting developments taking place at and around Curaçao Hato International Airport.

Curaçao, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, has played an important role in local and regional trade development since the 15th century due to its large, natural harbour. The economy has further developed through trade, transportation, international financing services and the oil refinery. Passenger and cargo air services are important components of its economic development.

To continue to meet air service demands and remain competitive in the industry, current development plans call for the conversion of Curaçao Hato International Airport, operated by Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), into a major logistics and passenger hub. Current services into Curaçao originate in Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Bogota, Miami and Panama, and also daily connections to Aruba, Bonaire, Caracas, Paramaribo, Sint Maarten and Valencia, etc. Services from Toronto and New York City increase during the winter season.

Ralph Blanchard, recently appointed CEO of CAP, says: "Much has been invested in Curaçao Airport since CAP took over the management of operations in 2006. Our aim is to convert our airport into one of the best in the Caribbean. We are progressing with good speed and will soon expand our capacity from 1.6 to 2.5 million passengers a year."

A policy of expansion

In order to meet the demands of the facilities, passengers and the airline community, CAP and its consulting offices are planning a terminal expansion programme to accommodate the anticipated increase in passenger numbers within the next five years.

Curaçao Hato International Airport is open 24 hours a day all year round. There is ample parking space for passenger and cargo flights on the apron – there are 15 parking positions, five of which are equipped with jet bridges – and runway 11/29 easily accommodates the weight of a B747-400/800 aircraft. The departure building has 34 check-in counters and four common-use self-service (CUSS) kiosks conveniently located across from the counters, and there is a small open-air food court.

CAP is presently investing close to $10 million towards the improvement of the facilities and the passenger experience. Runway rejuvenation, resurfacing and remarking, installation of another baggage X-ray screening machine, further upgrading and improvement of the central air-conditioning system, the renovation of facilities such as restrooms and replacement of chairs in the hold room areas are among the major projects slated to be completed by the end of 2013.

CAP is committed to its current airline partners and actively participates in creating opportunities for route expansion and service diversification. It also offers attractive incentive programmes for airline partners.

"Emerging markets, technological innovations and industrious minds are again coming together to create a true renaissance of the island – an island home to many cultures and beliefs that live harmoniously together in a truly Caribbean, sophisticated business and social environment," says Blanchard.

"Curaçao Airport serves as a catalyst for these developments. Now is the time to look at the possibilities the island and our airport offer."