Aruba – The future is bright
Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport anticipates a record year, almost recovering to the volume of passengers handled in 2019 while exceeding 2019 seat capacity.
Demand for leisure travel has increased considerably due to pent-up demand, and airlines have proven to be resilient, showcasing abilities to ramp up operations quickly and sustainably since tourism was welcomed back to Aruba in 2020.
Starting at 34% recovery in 2020, a return to 69% followed in 2021, when AUA processed 1,842,864 passengers and over 24,000 aircraft movements. As an important economic force, AUA is highly involved in the efforts of continued, sustainable growth of tourism, improving the inter-island connectivity within the ABC islands and the Caribbean, and exploring the future of aviation including electric flying.
Recovery of 95% or higher is expected in 2022, and pre-pandemic levels are anticipated in 2023 and beyond.
“A more nimble and collaborative approach toward working with the airlines has born its fruits,” states AUA Air Service Development Manager Jo-Anne Meaux-Arends, noting the techniques to capture these opportunities entail exploring underlying competitive challenges that small airports face in retaining or enhancing commercial air service. “New data collection techniques in conjunction with historical global demand and industry capacity data is used to predict demand in a manner that works effectively even when prior year results become less representative.”
With these positive developments, AUA is now seeing some significant interest and opportunities to expand the current network allowing for diversification of source markets. In 2022, growth opportunities have further developed including the initiation of daily Southwest service out of Orlando; thrice weekly Sarpa Airlines operations out of Medellin and Barranquilla, Colombia; and twice weekly Wingo service out of Medellin. Jet Air and Arajet commenced twice weekly service out of both Curacao and Santo Domingo, and British Airways announced two weekly flights from London Gatwick commencing in March 2023.
The Gateway 2030 expansion project, including terminal expansion and upgrades, is well underway. Green certification standards include the introduction of new and sustainable technology alongside expanded capacity in arrivals, security, baggage handling, hold rooms, bus gates and a shopping plaza. Phase 1A will be completed in 2024, with subsequent phases being developed, designed, and determined this year.
“Aruba Airport’s future looks bright and sunny,” Meaux-Arends says. “We will continue to strive for the creation of pleasant and authentic airport experiences for our airlines, our travelers, and our airport community in general, whilst doing this in an as sustainable manner as possible.”