PUERTO PEÑASCO, Mexico--(BUSINESS WIRE)--One of Mexico’s best kept secrets is about to be discovered. The first international airport in Puerto Peñasco, and the first completely privately built airport in Mexico, opens today for commercial service. Vacationers across America and Canada, and the rest of the world, will, for the first time, have quick and easy access to Sea of Cortez beaches, natural beauty, wildlife and recreational offerings that, until now, required long drives across desert and mountain terrain for most travelers.
Inaugural festivities are expected to be attended by Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, and other high officials as well as representatives from the tourism industry, including Grupo Vidanta, which is building the airport as well as several resort and residential developments in the region.
“The commencement of commercial air service to Puerto Penasco represents a milestone in the development of one of Mexico’s most exciting and now accessible tourism destinations,” said Fernando Antillon, Director of the Mar de Cortes International Airport. “We look forward to continued partnerships with the federal government, the State of Sonora and the private sector to develop this beautiful region along the incomparable Sea of Cortez for generations of new visitors.”
For decades, Puerto Peñasco has been known by residents of the Southwest as Rocky Point or even “Arizona’s Beach,” because of its proximity to Phoenix and Tucson, both three hours away by car. But inaccessibility – Los Angeles is eight hours away by road and air service has been limited to small aircraft – has kept the numbers of visitors low. Now, spearheaded by the Mar de Cortes (Sea of Cortez) International Airport, all that is changing as the Mexican government and the private sector make major investments in the region, building hotels, resorts, recreational facilities, several golf courses, homes and infrastructure. With the new airport, the destination will be less than an hour by air from Phoenix; less than two hours from Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Albuquerque.
Located 20 miles southwest of the city of Puerto Peñasco and approximately 60 miles from the U.S. border, the new airport is being built and will be operated by Operadora Aeroportuaria Golfo de Cortes, S.E. de C.V., a Grupo Vidanta company, which also built and operates the Mayan Palace in the destination and has developed tourism and resorts throughout Mexico. The airport code is PPE.
Commercial service will begin in November with fully functional airport and runway facilities and a modern, bright provisional terminal building, with completion of the entire airport project, including new terminal facilities, expected by 2012. Negotiations are currently underway for charter service from gateways in Canada and the U.S. as well as regional scheduled service from Phoenix, Arizona and Hermosillo, Mexico with such carriers as Aeromexico and US Airways. In the near future, additional scheduled and charter service is expected to provide access to Puerto Penasco from all over the world via major hubs such as Houston, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The airport’s 1.55 mile concrete runway is currently capable of handling Boeing 737’s and 757’s and similar type aircraft. After a planned extension of approximately 1,500 feet, it will welcome Boeing 767’s or similar aircraft as well. Two taxiways can accommodate three aircraft on the aprons. L861 lighting on the runway, PAPI’s visual aids and wind cones ensure safe landings and take-offs. The airport actually operated for one week in 2007 to accommodate President Calderon’s aircraft on the occasion of the Mexico-USA Border Governors Conference held in Puerto Peñasco. At the time Calderon’s pilot described the new runway as “one of the best in the country.”
Known as “the world’s aquarium” and designated a World Heritage Site, the Sea of Cortez is renowned for its beaches, perfect weather, water sports, fishing and wildlife, including migrating whales and birds. Situated along the northern coastline, Puerto Peñasco, with its distinct character and charm, is undergoing dramatic growth. In 1998, the destination welcomed 1.2 million visitors; in 2008 it was discovered by 2.35 million but that number is expected to swell dramatically with the inauguration of air service and the ongoing completion of numerous four and five star resorts. Appealing to young, active vacationers, over 60 percent of visitors are between 31 and 50 years of age, with high income levels. As Grupo Vidanta and other companies develop luxury vacation home ownership opportunities in the region as well as additional resorts, the population is expected to more than double. Visitor accommodations by 2025 are expected to top 40,000, from the current 6,000 units.
As one of Latin America’s largest developers of luxury resorts and tourism facilities and infrastructure, Grupo Vidanta has 30,000 acres and seven miles of beachfront property to develop in Puerto Peñasco. The luxury vacation mega-plex planned by Grupo Vidanta is equivalent to approximately twice the area of Manhattan island; interconnecting 10,000 luxury vacation homes and 7,000 high-end hotel rooms from estuaries to ocean, by a system of canals to retail, entertainment and beach club centers throughout the complex. The company’s Mayan Palace Resort and Peninsula Golf, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, are already in operation, with two additional golf courses – by Nicklaus and Greg Norman – as well as other resorts, including The Grand Mayan, The Grand Bliss and Ocean Breeze are under construction. All facilities are expected to be completed in the next five years.
For more information, please visit www.grupovidanta.com.