Nicaragua plans to start construction of new airport in July

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Óscar Mojica, retired general and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said that “this year we started, without a doubt”

The dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, who indebted Nicaragua to China for a $400 million loan to build the Punta Huete International Airport or better known as Panchito, located in San Francisco Libre, Managua, plans to begin construction works in next July, said Óscar Mojica, retired general and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI).

“We have made a lot of progress, but these are large processes, they are a megaproject and there is a roadmap that is being fully fulfilled, step by step, phase by phase, moment by moment,” Mojica told the official Channel 8.

The official repeated Ortega’s speech to argue the need for a new airport and the value it would have due to Nicaragua’s geographical location. The construction of this airport was started by Ortega for military use, during his first term in the 80s, and although it was never completed, it caused tensions with Washington and it is not ruled out that the new work will rekindle those tensions.

“These characteristics (…) are an extraordinary strength that we Nicaraguans must know how to take advantage of. The airport is one of the efforts, the Bluefields port is a necessary complement and the future strategic multimodal rail transport corridor is going to be the final milestone of a great connectivity strategy for Nicaragua with the rest of the world,” he expressed.

Mojica pointed out that the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport “(has) been created 64 years ago, an airport that was good for its time and that met the air safety requirements, but today due to the development of the country, this airport is already becoming increasingly smaller, and in the future it will be a restriction, a limitation for the development of the country.”

“This year we start, without a doubt”

Mojica, when asked when construction work would begin, responded that “this year we started, without a doubt, we are starting this year,” and in turn, detailed how the project has been progressing since March 2023.

“We have advanced at a very dynamic pace with government institutions (…) we have achieved a high level of cohesion on this issue that is of very high national interest. On October 17 of last year, we already reached a contract agreement to promote and promote the project with the Chinese company CAMC Engineering,” he recalled.

The Ortega official said that on December 22 the credit facility agreement was signed in Beijing, and now the big news is that “on January 9 itself the National Assembly approved the Credit Facility Agreement for the project, we now need to complete it.” the detailed engineering to know where everything goes, this is the final part of preparation to be able to start the work, it is design, but detailed design.”

Óscar Mojica, retired general and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI). Photo: TN8

Mojica maintained that work is being done quickly so that work on the land can begin in July.

“We are working very hard to begin work on the land in the shortest possible time. In July, we began the construction of the camp, a camp of eight buildings, four of them will be single-story and the rest will be two plants. The contingent of workers, the administration and management of the work, the logistics, the preparation fields, workshops, and recreational areas for these personnel will be there,” the official explained.

For this reason, he stressed that “this will begin in July, if we manage to overcome all the requirements along the way. Worst case scenario, we’re going to start in September. What we do have absolute certainty is that we are going to start in the second half of 2024, but we are absolutely certain that we are going to start in the second half of 2024.”

Mojica said that the estimated construction projection is 48 months, that is, four years; and stressed that “we have 1,400 hectares right now to build a category 4F airport, which is the largest category. We come from an airport with limitations,” he said, referring to the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport.

Increase in passengers

Mojica said that another reason for the construction of the airport is the limitations of the international airport and the increase in passengers, without mentioning that Nicaragua, under Ortega, has become a springboard for Haitian, African, Cuban and even Ecuadorian migrants. who seek to reach the United States, a measure that senior American officials have repudiated.

In fact, Ambassador Brian Nichols, Undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, in November 2023 warned that his country’s government is “exploring the full range of possible consequences for those who facilitate this form of irregular migration” through charter flights.

In 2020 there were 350 thousand international passengers entering and leaving through that airport; In 2022 the number is 867 thousand passengers and this year 2023 we have an influx of one million 336 thousand passengers. Only between 2022 and 2023 there is a growth of 54 percent,” said the official.

Finally, he said that the cost projection is US$499 million and that there will be some 800 human resource workers who will work on the construction of the airport, “the vast majority of which will be Nicaraguan talent, and the strategic leadership of the work will be under “led by the Chinese company CAMC Engineering, which has enormous experience in airport construction in Asia, Africa and now in America, we are going to combine hunger with the desire to eat.”

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa NI