The airport sector in Latin America and the Caribbean recorded an average annual growth of 8% in passenger traffic in 2006-2015, according to a recent study by the Latin American development bank CAF.

Only in 2017 -according to data from the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) - air transport grew 5.2% with respect to the previous year, reaching about 281 million passengers transported from, to and within the region. At the same time, the airlines based in the area started operations last year to 74 new routes: 44 national and 30 international.

This positive trend is expected to continue over the next few years, as the number of passengers changing from land to air transport is increasing, especially due to the rise in the region of low-cost airlines and also supported by a macroeconomic scenario that is more favorable.

The growth potential of the industry is even greater if one considers that Latin Americans still fly a third of the time that Europeans do and a quarter of what Americans fly.

Most airports implemented expansion plans between 2007 and 2012, but that capacity has already been largely exceeded by demand. The pressure on the current infrastructure has triggered new investment projects in Argentina, Chile, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Brazil, among others. There is also a gigantic and controversial initiative to build a new international airport in Mexico City 

However, the infrastructure challenges are even greater and include not only the main airports, but all national airport ecosystems. If the projections are fulfilled, in the next 10 years the region will double passenger traffic with the opening of more routes and greater accessibility to competitive air tickets, putting more pressure on airport needs.

Figure: Air traffic in selected countries

Figure: Airport infrastructure under construction


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