Puerto Vallarta is set to embark on a new airport expansion that will more than double its arrivals capacity, as well as add a new, smoother customers and immigration process, Saúl Ernesto Sanabria Gibert, general director of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, told Travel Agent at this year’s Gala Vallarta. The event, which is celebrating its celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, took place February 11 - 12.
Construction on the project is set to kick off next year, with an expected completion date in 2025. The new building will add 14 gates, bringing the airport’s gate total to 34, allowing it to handle 10 to 12 million arrivals annually. By comparison, the facility welcomed 4 million arrivals in 2018, a number that’s expected to grow to 5 million this year.
Also planned for the new building is a redesigned customs and immigration process designed to make the experience easier for travelers. In what’s being billed as a “21st-century” arrivals experience, the new area will have a special scanner that luggage can go through before travelers arrive, meaning that they won’t have to drag their bags with them through customs.
The expansion is the latest new development in air travel from Puerto Vallarta. In December, Copa Airlines launched a new flight from its hub in Panama City that tourism officials say will provide connections to a number of important source markets throughout Latin America. Coming soon from the United States: Sun Country Airlines plans to add a new flight out of Las Vegas, while Volaris is planning an additional flight from Phoenix.
All told, international air arrivals were up 2.2 percent in 2018, topping 3.1 million. U.S. visitors made up over half of the total, particularly from Los Angeles, Dallas and Seattle.