New airport planned at Chinchero close to Machu Picchu to bring in ever more tourists
Machu Picchu is one of the world’s great spectacles, and the numbers of tourists visiting it has risen – 2.3 million in 2011. Now the existing airport of Cusco Velazco Astete is said to be filling up, so another larger airport is planned, at nearby Chinchero. The plan is for a 4,000 metre runway, able to cater for planes as large as the A380. Construction of a new airport is going ahead despite local concerns over corruption and the environmental impacts such a large project could have on the delicate mountaintop ecosystem of Peru’s Sacred Valley. The Peruvian president backs the project, with claims it will boost tourism, create jobs and permit modernization. The new airport’s detractors say that sort of tourist volume is more than the region can handle sustainably. At Machu Picchu, the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism. Officials already limit the number of visitors to 3,500 people daily in order to satisfy UNESCO, which has designated the ruins a World Heritage Site. They fear the new airport will destroy the things the tourists have come to see. Others wonder what the effect might be on Lima if it gets by-passed. The airport might be open by 2017.
Machu Picchu Airport Plan Stirs Concerns In Peru
Construction of a new airport near the famed ruins of Machu Picchu is going ahead despite local concerns over corruption and the environmental impacts such a large project could have on the delicate mountaintop ecosystem of Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Planned for Chinchero, between Machu Picchu and Cusco, the new airport has the blessing of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who says the $460 million project will boost tourism, create jobs and “permit modernization,” The Telegraph reports.
The current Cusco airport, Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport, “only operates with limited daytime flights,” The Telegraph reported in 2012, “and is limited by its location in a city, surrounded by hills. Large aircraft cannot fly into the facility.”
An atmospheric video introducing new airport, which would be named Chinchero-Cusco International Airport, suggest that it would be able to accommodate Airbus A380 and Boeing 757 aircraft, both of which can seat hundreds of passengers.
The new airport’s detractors say that sort of tourist volume is more than the region can handle sustainably, citing an already overwhelming number of arrivals to Cusco and other Sacred Valley towns.
At Machu Picchu, arrivals have surged from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2011, according to the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism. Officials already limit the number of visitors allowed into the Machu Picchu site to 3,500 people daily in order to satisfy UNESCO, which has designated the ruins a World Heritage Site.
But the problems with the new Chinchero airport don’t end with the sheer number of arrivals, writes journalist Nicholas Asheshov. “The airport is not even needed, even if it were to be, in the words of Roger Valencia, Cusco’s top guide and thoughtful ecologist, ‘properly managed.'”
Asheshov wrote in an article in the Peruvian magazineCaretas. “But, again, as everyone here knows, it will be badly done. The quality of the regional and municipal administrations of Cusco and Urubamba, of which Chinchero is a district, is Third World incompetent with a well-entrenched tradition of corruption.”
Asheshov and other locals in the tourism industry worry that making it easier for tourists to get here will only destroy the things they’ve come to see. “The Sacred Valley has become a conurbation of million-dollar maize fields among the hotels,” Asheshov writes.
Others in the tourism industry wonder what the effect might be on Lima and its attractions, if passengers bypass the Peruvian capital in favor of a direct flight to Machu Picchu and its surrounding tourism bounty.
Peruvian news reports suggest the new airport could be open for business by 2017.
Three Consortia Submit Bids for Chinchero Airport Contract
23.4.2014 (Peruvian Times)
Three consortia submitted proposals on Tuesday to build and operate a new international airport in Peru’s southern Andean region of Cusco.
The 40-year contract to build and operate the airport in the sleepy town of Chinchero is to be awarded on Friday by private investment promotion agency ProInversion. The initial cost of the project is estimated to be around $539 million, but the investment could rise to $658, depending on expansions and other works, ProInversion said in a statement.
The consortia —Aeropuerto Chinchero, Kuntur Wasi and Aeroportuario Imperial— submitted their technical and economic proposals for the contract.
ProInversion reported that the Aeropuerto Chinchero consortium is made up of construction company Grana y Montero SA, and the French-based Vinci Airports SAS and Vinci Concessions SAS (Vinci Airports is also bidding for the Santiago de Chile airport). The consortium Kuntur Wasi includes the Argentine firm Corporacion America SA and Andino Investment Holding SA of Peru, which in 2011 won the bid to operate and maintain six airports in southern Peru. The third consoritum is Aeroportuario Imperial is made up of Grupo Odinsa SA of Colombia and Mota Engil Peru SA of Portugal.
The airport will be built in the district of Chinchero, which is home to a community of about 12,000 people, Quechua-speaking farmers with rich, world-recognized traditions in textile weaving. The airport is to replace Cusco’s current airport, which is located in the city of Cusco about 35 kms away. Chinchero likes at 3780 meters above sea level (12,400 ft) whereas the current airpot is several hundred feet lower, at 11,200 ft.
Plans to build an airport at Chinchero, to expand facilities for the now hundreds of thousands tourists that visit the nearby Machu Picchu ruins every year, has been on the drawing board since the early 1970s.
Critics of the Chinchero airport project say that it is a poorly devised plan that will destroy the historical town and the stunning landscapes of the surrounding valley, while also posing serious technical problems due to wind and fog factors as well as its higher altitude than the current Cusco airport.
Machu Picchu: Peru unveils plans for new airport
Peru’s President Ollanta Humala has unveiled plans for a new airport near Cusco which he says will boost tourism to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and the surrounding region.
The current airport, which is only able to handle limited daytime flights, was not sufficient, Mr Humala said.
The government will invest $460m (£290m) in the project, he said.
Machu Picchu is Peru’s top tourist attraction but there are concerns over the impact of high visitor numbers.
“This new airport will not only mean more tourists will be able to come, but it will generate more jobs… and help surrounding communities,” President Humala said.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, he enacted a law that allows the expropriation of land in the town of Chinchero where the new international airport would be built.
The investment would help the government to tackle poverty, he said, “while always respecting ancient culture”.
Tourism is the main source of income in the region.
Machu Picchu is a world heritage site and the UN’s cultural agency, Unesco, has previously warned about uncontrolled access and urged the authorities to make conservation a priority.
Currently, entrance to Machu Picchu is limited to some 2,500 visitors a day, amid concerns about the impact on the environment and citadel.
Cusco is the main starting point for visitors wishing to visit the site, who can make the 112km (70 mile) journey either on foot or via bus and train.
The citadel of Machu Picchu, located 2,500m (8,200ft) above sea level, was built in the 15th Century by the Incas.
It was rediscovered in 1911 by US historian Hiram Bingham.