ANI's Ernesto Cortissoz airport P3 off the ground

Modernisation and expansion work is expected to allow for a 40 percent increase in cargo capacity by 2020.

Colombian political leaders gathered in the northern coastal city of Barranquilla last week to hold a ceremony celebrating the completion of contract negotiations and impending construction start of the COP$345 billion ($135.4 million; €122.8 million) Ernesto Cortissoz Airport public-private partnership (PPP; P3) modernisation and expansion project.

Concessionaire Sociedad Grupo Aeroportuario del Caribe SAS will begin work in two months under a PPP agreement that calls for the administration, operation, commercial exploitation, adaptation, expansion, modernisation and maintenance of the airside and landside airport assets, according to Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) President Luis Fernando Andrade.

Along with Andrade, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Vice President German Vargas Lleras, Minister of Transport Natalia Abello Vives, Atlantic department Governor Jose Antonio Degebre, and the Mayor of Barranquilla Elsa Noguero also attended the ceremony.

“Today we take an extra step to make Barranquilla a pole of development by signing this contract to modernise the Ernesto Cortissoz,” Santos said. “Here, all that lies ahead is a good future.”

When completed, the passenger terminal will be expanded to 15,000 square meters, with 5,425 square metres dedicated to the international terminal. The airport will also feature a new 6,200-square metre cargo terminal, a 600-square metre corporate aviation terminal, a 5,625-square metre aircraft maintenance building and a 5,425-square metre fueling area. 

Other work to be undertaken at the airport includes the repowering of the air conditioning system, the renewal of passenger offloading equipment in the loading, unloading and storage areas including installation of nine new boarding bridge units, and the replacement of machinery and vehicles for the firefighting service. 

Ernesto Cortissoz currently serves 2.4 million domestic and international passengers per year. With this project, ANI believes the airport will see a 25 percent increase in passengers by 2020 along with a 40 percent increase in cargo capacity, bringing the total cargo moved up to 52,000 tons per year.

The project is expected to create 2,400 jobs throughout the construction period, ANI said.