Local air travelers being snagged by unauthorized fees

Operators of two local airports have been under investigation since last year because they have instituted their own landing fees for passengers, according to the Dirección General de Aviation Civil.

The government agency disclosed these facts as a reporter sought information on landing fees at domestic airports.

One of the operators under investigation is Aeródromo Agua Milagrosa in La Fortuna de San Carlos where the landing fee is $7 a person and the exit fee is also $7. The airport receives many tourists who seek to see the nearby Arenal volcano and enjoy the thermal waters.

The Dirección General de Aviation Civil said that the airport operator was not authorized to charge any fees.

The landing fees are not a secret. Nature Air, a firm that conducts many of the domestic flights, lists in its terms and conditions the airport near Arenal as a place where air travelers will be charged $7 both ways.

The airline also says that $2.30 or the colon equivalent is charged coming and going in Tambor and that in Quepos the fee is $3 each way.

Guiselle Cortes Mora, who responded to questions on behalf of Enio Cubillo Araya, director general of the aviation agency, said that the operator at Tambor on the Nicoya peninsula was authorized only to charge $1 and that the operator of the Tamarino airport was approved to charge $1.54. The ticket073015charges are for an arrival and for an exit. These were the only approved charges, she said.

La Managua in Quepos was the second airport under investigation in 2014, she said. Ms. Cortes did not address the progress of the investigations, but she did say that a penalty could be termination of the airport permit.

Travelers who leave the country at Juan
Santamaría airport in Alajuela or Daniel Oduber in Liberia are required to pay a $29 departure tax, but this levy is established by law.

The Dirección General de Aviation Civil has a complex formula that includes maintenance. depreciation and the number of passengers that is used to establish the authorized landing fee.

Travelers, either Costa Ricans or foreign tourists, seem to be unaware of the ad hoc nature of the landing and exit fees.  Ms. Cortes said there had been no complaints this year.

The fees add up. One vacationer reported that three family members paid $21 as a landing fee and the same amount to leave the Arenal airport for a total of $42.

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