14 December 2011

Punta del Este Airport – more than a place of passage


The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to the Capitan Corbeta CA Curbelo International Airport (PDP), formerly called the Laguna del Sauce International Airport, and most commonly referred to as the Punta del Este International Airport, or simply the Punta del Este Airport.

The airport is located 25 kilometers from Punta del Este near Laguna del Sauce. It serves commercial flights, private planes, and is also used by the Uruguayan Navy. The modern terminal is a significant architectural work designed by the Uruguayan architect, Carlos Ott.

Punta del Este Airport History 
The airport started in the 1940s as a Navy seaplane base near Laguna del Sauce, and was known as the Laguna del Sauce Airport. In the following decades the beach resort of Punta del Este increased in popularity and the airport started receiving a growing number of travelers, especially during the Southern Hemisphere summer. As time went on the airport needed improvements and an expansion that the Uruguayan Navy could not afford. The problem was addressed in 1991 when the Uruguayan government put out an international tender for a private operator to take over the management and maintenance of the airport under a public works concession.

The concession was won by Consorcio Aeropuertos Internacionales S.A. (CAISA), which took over airport operations at the end of 1993. CAISA was a consortium made up of five companies with complimentary expertise in airport management and finance. CAISA hired another consortium made up of Spanish and Uruguayan companies that completely reconstructed the existing runway, added an additional runway, and installed modern visual aids.

Punta del Este Airport terminal
The Airport Terminal 
CAISA hired Carlos Ott to design the new terminal. Hochtief Aktiengeselschaft, a renowned German consortium, was selected to perform the construction.

Construction of the 13,000 square meter terminal started in 1995 and was finished in 1997 at a cost of 12 million dollars. The Punta del Este airport terminal has three levels and includes about two dozen shops, a restaurant, a duty-free store, and a superbly appointed VIP lounge.

The terminal has a modern and mechanical look that contrasts with the large grass fields and natural elements surrounding the facility. The colors are white and grey with lots of windows and light. It was Carlos Ott’s vision that the terminal's aesthetics would add a pleasant dimension to a traveler's experience, making the Punta del Este Airport more than just a place of passage.

Commercial airlines that have flights to the Punta del Este Airport 
Most commercial flights coming into the Punta del Este airport are from Buenos Aires, with additional commercial flights from other parts of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Airlines with flights to Punta del Este Airport include Aerolíneas Argentinas TAM, GOL, Pluna, and BQB Líneas Aéreas.

During the peak of high season, between Christmas and the middle of January, the airport fills with the private planes owned of fashion industry icons, entertainment celebrities, sports stars, industrialists, and political figures that come to Punta del Este to vacation.

Getting from the airport to Punta del Este
In addition to rental car agencies, Punta del Este Airport has taxis, shared van rides, and the availability of remise service. (Remise service is a hired car and driver that can be arranged ahead of time and charges a flat rate.)


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