Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport will be closed from August 8 until August 30 for runway resurfacing, airport executive director Fernando Arteaga announced on Wednesday. In addition to applying a new surface, the work will also improve drainage.
According to Arteaga, the resurfacing will end wet weather landing restrictions placed on the airport in May by the national aviation authority. The restrictions were the result of a landing accident in which a Tame Airline jet slipped off the runway on April 28.
Arteaga said in June that the resurfacing is an emergency measure to return the airport to full operations and that more work will be required to optimize landing and take-off conditions. “One option we are looking at closely is acquiring additional property and extending the runway to the southwest,” he said. “We estimate this would cost about $30 million,” he said.
The emergency resurfacing will cost about $1 million.
Cuenca’s 1,900-meter (6,200-foot) runway is one the shortest high-altitude landing strips in the world that accommodates large passenger jets. Several studies over the years have recommended relocating the airport but no suitable sites have been found, according to airport officials. The airport sits at 2,500 meters, or 8,300 feet, above sea level.
The airport authority says it may pursue legal action against the contractor who resurfaced the runway in February, claiming the new surface provided less traction to landing aircraft than the previous one. The airport had received several complaints about landing conditions in wet weather following the resurfacing.
As during previous airport closures, the airlines will provide bus service from the airport to the Guayaquil international airport so passengers can make connections.