Punta Arenas airport will be equipped next year with a sophisticated X rays system to check luggage and passengers, or anything introduced to aircrafts making it one of the safest air terminals in the country and ensuring our position as the gateway for scientific and tourist flights to Antarctica.
Airport manager Nelson Ibañez Giordano added that Punta Arenas already has extended landing strips, installed last generation radars and an outstanding illumination system, all of which have contributed to "an excellent safety record".
"Next year all Chilean airports will be certified internationally and we're preparing for the occasion with a long term, permanent target that demands constant updating of equipment".
Punta Arenas airport with its new terminal completed only 24 months ago has a potential for twenty daily flights and although in high season the average is only seven, "it has been planned with a 12/15 years horizon which means we can actually operate with three times our current peak", said Rodrigo Coto Operations Manager of Austral Concesionaria Ltd. responsible for the administration of the terminal.
"We have the potential to operate with three simultaneous full flights, that is 560 passengers per hour, 22 passenger desks and an embarkation hall that is the second largest among Chilean regional airports" indicated Mr. Coto.
Regarding freight Mr. Coto said that space, 1,200 square meters is more than enough for the current turnover, "but looking into the future we can more than treble capacity adding several floors to the current building; similarly parking space has been increased 300%; we've reformed the air terminal thinking in the future".
However Mr. Coto admits that some details can be improved.
"Our boarding facilities have been done thinking in the big aircrafts; maybe we should be planning a smaller exclusive area for regional flights making boarding less exposed to extreme climate".
According to Punta Arenas airport statistics in four decades the number of passengers has increased 300% and has constantly increased. In 1961, turnover was 100.191 passengers reaching 339,591 in 2002, although the best year was 2001 with 351,864 pax.