Ever since we have moved to the Cusco region we have heard talk of a new international airport that is going to be built close to Chinchero. While we have been told that all of the land has been acquired, we have not yet seen any evidence of construction. Rumor now has it that they will be breaking ground in December of this year, with construction scheduled to take one year.
While I think this will be a good and needed thing for Cusco, we have seen reports on the news here, that there are some investors in Lima that are trying to stop this. This is understandable because tourists would no longer be required to go through Lima in order to get to Cusco. While I do believe that Lima will see a reduction in tourism, I don’t think it will be that large, based on the guests we have had, and comments I have read on Trip Advisor, the largest percentage of travelers seem to want to see more than just Cusco. I think that what will most likely happen is that people will fly into one city, and then out of the other, so while Lima will see a reduction in visitors, I don’t believe it will be as bad as some think.
Now for the positives, the simple fact that the airport will be an International airport is a positive thing in itself, but the new location I think will be the biggest benefit. The current airport has one big down side which is its location; the airport basically sits in a hole.
The city of Cusco and its current airport are located in a valley, and not a very big one. While I am no expert on airports or aeronautics, from what I have read and been told the location of the airport and the size of the valley create a problem, aircraft are unable to make a standard approach. There is a standard angle of decent that planes use when landing and I imagine there are minimum and maximum angles that are considered safe. If you have a large mountain in the way, a straight approach would require an unsafe and rapid decent. I believe this is the problem with the current airport location as arriving flights approach through an adjacent valley and have to make a left turn just prior to landing.
Due to the angled approach needed to land, current navigational systems won’t work which means that pilots have to land under VFR or ‘Visual Flight Rules’, again I am no expert but basically this means that the pilot has to be able to see. Because of the need to be able to see, there are no flights at night, and during the rainy season, it is not uncommon for flights to be delayed or even cancelled due to low clouds in the valley. This I believe is the best reason for the new airport as it is being built in an area with more room, which will allow pilots to make standard landings with the aid of instrumentation, making the flights in and out of Cusco more reliable and even safer.