Cuenca transportation officials reported no problems with the reopening of the city's airport Monday, saying that all systems appeared to be functioning normally. Formal approval of the runway resurfacing project was given on Sunday and the first commercial jet in two weeks, a Tame flight from Guayaquil, touched down on the new asphalt just before 8:00 a.m. Last week, the reopening date was in question due to construction delays caused by rain but, according to Eduardo Ramirez, director of airport operations, several days of good weather and 24-work shifts kept the project on its original schedule. "We've had great weather and extra hours of labor and there was no problem with the reopening," Ramirez said.
In the first day of operation, the airport handled 28 commercial flights, a number expected to rise to 32 by the end of the week. Work continues on the new terminal building but is expected to be completed in late October. An airport dedication ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 1.
Known officially as Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Lamar, the Cuenca airport has been undergoing a $3.7 million rennovation since early 2006. The runway resurfacing price tag was $1.9 million and included stripping one-and-a-half inches of old asphalt from the landing surface and replacing it with a three inch think layer.
The Cuenca airport is the third busiest in Ecuador, after Guayaquil and Quito, and is under consideration for new flights from Panama and the U.S. Because Azuay and Loja provinces have more citizens living in North America than other provinces in the country, and more citizens commuting between North and South America, two Latin American carriers are weighing options for flights to Cuenca from Newark, Miami and Panama City.