LIR, Costa Rica's second largest international airport, is located in northwestern Costa Rica, Guanacaste province, 90 miles away from San José, Costa Rica’s capital. Laying on the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica’s 7th, for which Liberia stans as its capital, became part of the Costa Rican territory on July 25, 1824, 1017 days after Costa Rica gained independence from Spain on September 15, 1821 (Independence date for most Central American nations and Mexico). Being an independent territory linked indirectly but majorly to Nicaragua, their people choosed Costa Rica as the contry to belong to. "De la patria por nuestra voluntad" meaning "For the country by our willing" stated María Martha Durán R., representative back in the day. Is Costa Rica’s plainest territory, with a few and low mountain territories. Large plains are found all over the regions, inclusive the name where the airport is located, Llano Grande, means “big plain”. It has a year round Tropical dry climate, characterized for a dry station from December prolonging sometimes until July and a rainy season, where you can expect rain anytime, from August to November. Average temperature is 26º C. Vegetation is mostly wide 30 meter high trees, one of them is the Guanacaste a hard wood, tall tree found all over ther region. The region is named after this tree. Main activities in the region are tourism, herding and farming. Featuring beautiful beaches on the coast, like Tamarindo, Papagayo, Samara and Tambor, is a major attractive for nationals and foreigners. Herding has been a traditional activity and the long existance of plains are good for the development of this activity. Farming is another traditional acitvity in Costa Rica and for a long time it represented the most important income for the country. Large sugar and rice plantations may be found in the area. Animals in the region are deers, tapirs, cows, armadillos, iguanas and monkeys.
Being the 7th province means all the citizens born in this province will be assigned a ‘serial number’ (kinda the social security number in the US), so it’ll be a 7-****-**** number code for a person born here. Other province assignments go in a order beginning by San Jose province but I don’t remember the rest. Persons assigned serial numbers beginning with 8 I think are foreigners born to Costa Rican citizens, and 9 for aliens married to Costa Rican citizens and also nationalized aliens.
So now that you learned a little bit more of the Costa Rican history and the Guancaste region, and knowing what you can expect of the zone, and what you’ll see when you fly over it, let’s get a little more specific into aviation.
Liberia - Daniel Oduber Quirós International [Llano Grande/Tomás Guardia] (LIR / MRLB)
The idea of providing an airport to the Guanacaste region goes back to the Daniel Oduber presidency (1974-1978), when the construction works began at Llano Grande (12km, 8mi west of the city of Liberia).
The airport was reinaugurated on the 28th of October, 1995, after spending 700 million colones (back in the date about 2.5-3 miliion US dollars--today is NOT even 2 million US dollars), and renamed Daniel Oduber Quirós Intl Airport (the airport used to be called Tomas Guardia International, which is the name of another Costa Rican ex-president), in honor to him. Also LACSA introduced that day the first commercial flight, first arriving from San Jose, and then departing to Miami, using a 737-2L9 (N281LF).
(1.1.0) Links between the past and the present.
The only service between this city and Nicaragua nowadays is to Granada, a historical-touristic southern Nicaraguan city, operated by Nature Air, using DHC-6's Twin Otters.
Nature Air 110 SYQ 06:00 LIR07:00-07:15 Granada, Nic. 07:50 Nature Air 111 Granada, Nic. 08:15 *LIR08:50-09:25 *SYQ 10:15
(*LIR-SYQ operates as Nature Air flight #083)
Flights operated on Wednesdays and Fridays only.
Nature Air 175 SYQ 15:00 LIR15:50-16:00 Granada, Nic. 16:35 Nature Air 176 Granada, Nic. 17:00 LIR17:35-18:00 **SJO 18:45
(**flight 111 stays overnight in LIR to fly Nature Air flt. #053 [next day] LIR-SJO departing at 05:35, and does a quick stopover at SJO if it’s convenient for passengers)
Flights operated on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.
(2.0.0). Airfield Specifications.
(2.1.0) One runway is all what you need!
Exist a major commonality between Costa Rica's two largest international airports (SJO+LIR): both have only one runway, both have heading's 07-25 and both are equipped with an ILS system for runway 07. They also feature similar lenghts, LIR still having a larger runway usable lenght (SJO has only 8721 ft.)
(2.2.0) Instrument Flight Rules: LIR’s DME/VOR & ILS spec’s
Costa Rica has 4 international airports.
MRLB- Liberia / N-W Pacific Coast
MROC-San José (Alajuela) / Capital (Central Valley) (international)
MRPV-San José (Pavas) / Downtown San Jose (general aviation ops.)
MRLM-Limón / Central (Eastern) Atlantic Coast.
Out of those 4, only LIR and SJO have an ILS landing system. This feature, plus the VOR/DME specs' are shown next:
(2.3.0) Radio communications.
Who knows and soon Liberia departure and clearance delivery frequencies are available. Hopefully traffic will demand so . The 3 actual, Spanish/English bilingual frequencies are:
Liberia APPROACH: 119.8 MHz
Liberia TOWER: 118.8 MHz
Liberia GROUND: 121.7 MHz
(3.0.0). Airport Operations.
As you read before, the first commercial (and probably the first jet-engine airplane) flight into LIR was back in 1995. Since then, most of the flights were charters. Nowadays, there's a wide variety of both scheduled and charter airlines, but we can't forget executive, private and military aviation, in both domestic and international ops.
(3.1.0) Domestic Ops.
SANSA (TACA Regional-Servicios Aéreos Nacionales SA) and Nature Air (Travel Air) are the only 2 Costa Rican scheduled domestic carriers. There are many charter companies and private operator flying to LIR everyday also.
(3.1.1) Scheduled domestic ops.
SANSA flies only once a day in both low and high season, nonstop to Juan Santamaria Intl. in Alajuela, using C208B Grand Caravans.
btw HP-1399-APP just got a new paint scheme, which I heard was applied in Guatemala. The dash (-) is now shown between the number code 1399 and letter code APP, which doesn't happen in the old paint scheme. It's kinda weird to see a TA plane withouth that red triangle over the cockpit.
Nature Air has 3 daily flights to LIR, and 5 on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, with final destination Granada, Nicaragua. While special flights are nonstop SYQ-LIR, regular service flights are routed via TTM (Tamarindo, Costa Rica - MRTM), a beautiful beach zone in Costa Rica's NW Pacific coast.
Nature Air 083 SYQ 08:00 TTM 08:50-09:00 LIR 09:15 Nature Air 123 SYQ 11:00 TTM 11:50-12:00 LIR 12:15 Nature Air 153* SYQ 16:00 TTM 16:50-17:00 LIR 17:15 (*plane stays overnight at LIR)
Nature Air 053 LIR 05:35 TTM 06:00-06:10 *SYQ 07:05 Nature Air **184 LIR 09:25 SYQ 10:15 Nature Air **124 LIR 12:25 SYQ 13:15
*Stopover at SJO.
**Flights 184 and 124 are non-stop - TTM-SYQ pax are flown to LIR and then to SJO.
flights into LIR are operated with both BN-2 Islander and DHC-6 Twin Otter planes.
(3.1.2) Charter and private ops.
Being one of Costa Rica's most important cities, there are many operations of this kind into LIR, mainly from San Jose. At SYQ everyone knows what plane is TI-TCT. Teletica's King Air. If you ask where is it going they're probably going to tell you "well I guess Liberia". That plane flies a lot btw.
Other important charter companies (Aerobell, TACSA, ATASA, ATA) bring their planes quite often around LIR. Most companies consist of the same fleet: 4 different aircrafts, C206, PA-23 or PA-34, PA-31 and DHC-6. So those are common planes seen at LIR. Here some pics of them, just to get you introduced a little bit with the Costa Rican aviation.
(3.2.1) Scheduled airlines ops.
Scheduled airlines said present at LIR. AA, CO, US and DL fly nonstop from their major hubs, using Boeing 737-(300/700/800) and 757. Here are the schedules for 2005, which seem will change in the middle of the year.
American Airlines AA 2127/2130 01/31/05 - 04/02/05 (daily service*) Equipment B738 Duration 2:47 Distance 1101 miles Flt. 2127 MIA 11:12 LIR 12:59 Flt. 2130 LIR 14:35 MIA 18:37
(*beginning 12/13/04 until 04/03/05 flight dates are alternate)
Continental Airlines CO 1198/1199 12/08/04 - undefined date Equipment B733 Duration 3:29 Distance 1469 miles Flt. 1198 IAH 16:00 LIR 19:29 Flt. 1199 LIR 08:15 IAH 11:51
Delta Airlines DL 295/366 01/31/05 - undefined date Equipment B7387752 Duration 3:45 Distance 1585 miles Flt. 295 ATL 10:55 LIR 12:47 Flt. 366 LIR 14:07 MIA 19:50
A Delta 738 seen at LIR's ramp previous to its flight back to ATL as DL366.
US Airways US 459/458 02/12/05 - undefined date (Saturdays only) Equipment A319 Duration 4:18 Distance 1765 miles Flt. 459 CLT 10:30 LIR 13:18 Flt. 458 LIR 14:20 CLT 19:13
(3.2.2) Charter airlines ops.
Many charter airlines signed contracts with large travel agencies so now we have them at LIR. Transmeridian (Vacation Express-SFB), Ryan Int'l (Suntrips-OAK) Mexicana (Mexicana-CUN), Northwest Airlines (MSP) Skyservice (Sunquest-YYZ), Pace Airlines (where do they fly from???) and many others have one thing in common: they currently fly/have flown-or-will fly to LIR. It's pretty harder to get schedules for this kind of airlines, so what you see here is all what I could find.
Northwest Airlines flies seasonally to LIR from MSP. The airline has been flying to LIR since 2003. For the 2005 season, The 5:20 nonstop flight will be operated by an Airbus A320 all Saturdays between Jan. 4, and May 1 (weird that none of these dates is a Saturday...)
Mexicana also operated CUN-LIR charter flights with a 757 and sometimes A320 from 21/05/04 thru 25/06/04 and I heard they're likely to be back next year, and the always present possibility of the route MEX-LIR.
Here you can see Mexicana with some ECDEA's (biggest flight school in Costa Rica--based in MRPV) next to a Vacation Express (Pace Airlines) 737.
Having Martinair (738) and Condor (763) flying from MCO to SJO, is a cool route addition now to see Transmeridian flying their MD’s to LIR from SFB. Always nice to see a plane other than the... let’s call them common ones.
We're talking about private aviation. Not only bizjets. Remember a US registered aircraft that dissapeared after take-off from La Mesa Intl in Honduras? well it was intended to land in LIR. I know that because the plane got lost (btw someone knows what happened later?)... now I guess how many flights like this go on without incidents.
(3.2.4) Military ops.
If Costa Rica was a military country (another fact... Costa Rica, same as Switzerland, are the only 2 countries in the world with no military branches at all) I'm sure LIR will be a major AFB. Even though Costa Rica doesn't have military corps, it provides a space for US Coast Guard, Customs, Navy and Air Force planes, destinated to perform task to fight against drug smuggling.
They’re a great help for the government as they support war against drugs and also help coasts to be safer. For two countries known for their good relationship, this is a great step, and this kind of colaboration between each other is normally expected.
(4.0.0). LIR now... LIR in the future.
The Costa Rican Tourism Bureau (ICT) in a press release from October contains many interesting facts. By the beginning of that month of this year, 90,000 passengers used LIR as their travel gate. That might be interpreted as 120,000-125,000 by the end of this year. That’s 80% more than 2002. Btw, commercial service was introduced by DL in late 2002. That’s what you can call improvement. LIR needs more infrestructure and works have already begun. In a short period of time, gates will be available at LIR. A bigger terminal, and more space for aircraft parking, which is actually for 4 airliners will be the new image of LIR.
Hopefully things will go well for LIR for a long time . Is without any doubt a great airport and the benefits it brings to Costa Rica are enormous!. I hope one day I’ll land a plane over there.
Finished with my ‘report’ (yup... finally! ) I’d like to say only one thing: please don’t blame me for this post being too long, I know it is (sure you do, too!) but I’ve put a lot of effort on it and I tought this could be interesting and useful for some of the a.nutters like you guys. Having said that just enjoy the info!
Now, there’s a rumor around the corner that TACA will also integrate LIR as a scheduled destination in their network. News anyone???
I wonder when we’ll see the first nonstop to Europe??? My guess is Air Madrid with their A332’s in a not-so-far future. Air Madrid actually flies to SJO from MAD nonstop.
Special thanks to my friend André Quiros Tacsan for all the info I could obtain from his website, which was my major source, http://www.costaricaaviation.com including all the big pictures I linked here, taken by Franco, holder of the coyrights, published at costaricaaviation.com
Comments, as well as questions are welcome. Excuse any typos or grammatical errors I may’ve incurred in but it’s kinda hard to control that with such a long post.
Also! Please correct me if I state something wrong, I try my best to recopilate valid and correct info but... and any extra information (mostly charter schedules) will be greatly appreciated!
N506CR From Costa Rica, joined Nov 2004, 147 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (9 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 9125 times:
Notdownlocked, FoxBravo, Chugach & Lt-AWACS
thank you guys for the comments. I'm glad to see you like it and is always rewarding to hear good comments about one's works.
Sidenote: Switzerland has a military, to include a potent little Air Force
Thanks for the update Lt-AWACS. I had understood that Switzerland had no military at all, now that you told me that I made a search and came up with this: "Switzerland has no standing army. Instead, they have a well-armed citizen militia. Every able-bodied man from 18 up is required to be a militia member and carry arms. As a result, every Swiss home is impressively armed. Fully automatic weapons (machine guns) are commonplace in Swiss homes."
I guess what I heard about was Switzerland lacking of a 'standing' army, but I understood it as lacking of a entire militia system. Therefore, if I am right now, Costa Rica is the only country in the world free of any kind of military corps/forces at all. I always thought the 'Swiss Army' brand (btw I use that lotion) was like an irony (I didn't knew they had the army) but now I see it refers to all their peoples.
Their Air Force is quite impressive btw.
I love the paint scheme of the Swiss Cross white/red F-5 Tiger. No doubt the long King Air looks lovely too.
N506CR From Costa Rica, joined Nov 2004, 147 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (9 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 8919 times:
Thank you very much for supplying that important fact. I had no idea that Panama lacked of a military system. When I went to Panama back in 2002, I recall passing by Albrook (MPMG) and watching a CASA 212 depart, wearing a paint scheme that makes you think of military. I use to look at pictures at Panama also (I can't wait for a spotting trip to Albrook!) and the pics are shown as 'Panama - Air Force'. That'll make me think of it having a military force.
Now that I look further on them, I see that they're actually Panama's National Air Service (Servicio Aéreo Nacional) which’s kinda the same thing that we've in Costa Rica. A small police civilian air service. In the case of Costa Rica, 'MSP’s Air Section' (Ministerio de Seguridad Pública - Sección Aérea). Interesting that in both Costa Rica and Panama the registration of the aircraft belonging to these corps differ from the regular (TI- in Costa Rica and HP- in Panama) to become, in order, MSP-### or SAN-###.
Here are some of the aircraft of the CR Air Section. A 206 Turboprop Soloy Conversion and a MiG 8 that was sold to Colombia a couple of years ago. The Navajo shown in the post above also belongs to them. I’ve heard they’ve other Navajo and Senecas, and the Hughes, which I’m including a picture here btw.
LX23 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 347 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (9 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 8778 times:
N506CR: Great, informative post about LIR! The only correction to be made is the one already noted by LT-AWACS (Switzerland has an army). GVA being one of my hometowns, I've often gone to all of the Swiss AF open-days (including Air '04 this year at Payerne, which was VERY nice).