British Airways on Wednesday announced the opening of a non-stop flight between Gatwick airport in London and Juan Santamaría International Airport in Costa Rica starting May 4, 2016.
Two flights will be offered weekly, on Saturday and Wednesday, during the UK summer. During the winter, three flights will be offered, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
This will be carrier’s first route to Central America, said Colm Lacy, the airline’s commercial director at Gatwick.
President Luis Guillermo Solís made the announcement at Casa Presidencial, saying that “negotiations to add a new direct route to Europe took various years.” Currently only Spanish carrier Iberia has a direct route to Costa Rica from the old continent.
“The confirmation of this new connection to the European market allows us to further develop the tourism industry for economic growth that will generate more employment and other benefits,” Solís said.
The Costa Rica Tourism Board estimates that the new route could move some 30,000 passengers per year. It could also attract more visitors from British Airways connections: to 130 destinations worldwide.
The route will be operated using Boeing 777 with capacity for 275 passengers, “with three categories of seats, opening the opportunity to different segments of travelers from the UK,” Lacy said.
Europe is the second largest source market of tourists to Costa Rica after the U.S., according to data from the Costa Rica Tourism Board. Last year, more than 370,000 European visitors arrived in Costa Rica on a tourist visa.
The new British Airways route could also boost foreign trade, as the aircraft have a high capacity for cargo, Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said.
“This announcement was highly anticipated by the Costa Rican tourism sector and by our country in general,” Ventura said. “This new opportunity challenges us to continue working on improving the quality of our customer service to ensure that European tourists stay longer and enjoy a great travel experience.”