Valley on alert for future of Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport; this is happening

The news that the main air terminal in the south-west of the country, Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport, will be temporarily managed by Civil Aeronautics while a new concession process is carried out has caused concern among the sector’s leaders and unions. Done.

This is what the new international dock at Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport looks like. , picture: Photo: Raul Palacios / El Pais

From various sectors they have warned that this measure will only generate shocks and could reduce the competitiveness of the air terminal (third nationally in passenger movement).

Aerocivil will manage it for a period of more than 14 months, as it is anticipated that the new concessionaire will be identified in January 2025.

For this reason, the sector has been requested to sign an additional agreement to the contract that is still in place with Aerocali (the current concessionaire), until a new one is chosen.

He reminded that the concession contract with Aerokali was signed since 2000, and has undergone several extensions. The current one expires on April 30, on which date Civil Aeronautics, which is already in the process of being incorporated, will assume operation of the air terminal.

While unions insist on leaving the operation of Bonilla Aragon airport in the hands of Aerocali, the government says it will hand it over to Aerocivil while a new concessionaire is defined. , picture: Bernardo Pena/El Pais

Similarly, he addressed the questions that have arisen as a result of this decision, reiterating that Aeronautics “has the technical capacity and suitability” to carry out this work, as it currently manages 53 air terminals in the country.

24 years concession

In almost 24 years of the concession, Aerocali, whose main shareholder is the firm Aena, which manages more than 40 airports in Spain, in addition to operations in other countries, has carried out infrastructure work for the reconstruction of Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport. Did. ,

This included expansion of waiting rooms, baggage rooms, more service areas, separation of departure and arrival flows, improved road access, among other things, allowing us to expand our capacity to serve 9 million passengers per year by more than 63,000 square metres. Got permission to do so. meters of terminal area.

how is that In 2023, 6.8 million passengers passed through this terminal, of which 5 million were national and 1.68 million international.

Additionally, since 2008 it has received Bureau Veritas ISO 9001 certification and in 2017 it became the first airport in the country to receive aerodrome certification awarded by the Bureau of Civil Aeronautics.

In the same year, the new international terminal was inaugurated, consisting of an intelligent building of 22,742 square meters and a platform of 69,306 square meters, exclusive for international passenger operations. Currently, Bonilla Aragon offers service to 19 national and six international destinations.

What shock will there be?

One of the first to react to the decision of the Ministry of Transport was the Governor of Valle, Dilian Francisca Toro, who – in a recent meeting with Minister William Camargo – asked him, among other things, to reconsider the decision because This will have this effect. The loss of $30,000 million that Palmyra receives every year as compensation.

In the same sense, the Mayor of Cali Alejandro Ader spoke, for whom the most convenient thing is to sign an agreement with Aerocali, but he agreed to work in a clear way with the government so that the new concessionaire can operate the airport. Could build. Height of the best in the world.

Voices of concern have also been heard from the unions.

Ana María Castillo, economic and competitiveness director of the Cali Chamber of Commerce, although she acknowledged that Aerocivil has the capacity to operate Bonilla Aragon, said the concern is whether it is appropriate to transfer the operation to a state entity. year, and then deliver it again to the dealer, as the said change involves administrative aspects that may take some time.

For example, many of the commercial contracts that the current operator has will now need to be adjusted with a public entity.

For this reason, it is believed that maintaining the current operator, until it is defined who will receive the concession, would be more beneficial for regional development.

He highlighted that the Department is betting on medical tourism, internationalization and export of agricultural products such as fruits and flowers and is at the forefront of technological developments. “This requires an airport with sufficient frequencies of direct routes and solid cargo and cold logistics operations.”

For example, Castillo said the terminal currently has fewer international connections than other main cities (Cali 9 destinations/5 countries; Medellín 21 destinations/14 countries; Bogotá 56 destinations and 29 countries). That is, there is one job per person to recover the connection to the capital of the valley.

Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport, which serves Cali , picture: Giancarlo Manzano/El Pais

He agreed with Castillo that Cali needs more connectivity. “It requires many more direct destinations, we must go and attract an airline so that Cali can become a hub, a connection centre, and that requires technical marketing knowledge. We need an administrator who is agile, who brings in more airlines and who has a more efficient and competitive cargo terminal,” he said.

For his part, Cotelco Vale’s executive president Oscar Guzmán expressed that they have already met in three working groups with unions and people from the public sector, and “we believe that in the short term the best option is a to give “separate opinions regarding Aerocali, so that Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport continues to operate while ANI carries out the bidding process and hands it over to the new operator or Aerocali”

“Handing it over again to Aerocivil now and handing it over to the new operator in twelve or 14 months, I think there will be a bottleneck there,” he said.

(TagstoTranslate)Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport(T)AeroCali(T)AeroCivil(T)National Government(T)Concession

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