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A closer look at the airport business travelers rank
Latin America’s worst.

 

BY PHIL GUNSON

 

CARACAS -- Perched in a narrow valley, 800 meters (0.5 miles) up in Venezuela’s coastal range, and separated from the Caribbean sea by mountains that rise to over 2,600 meters, Caracas is poorly endowed with suitable sites for an accessible airport. For more than half a century, it has relied on Maiquetia (officially, Simon Bolivar International Airport), built on a narrow coastal strip and linked to the capital by a steep, four-lane highway that has seen better days.

 

Just how vulnerable that link is to disasters, both natural and man-made, was made abundantly clear in 2006, when one of the main viaducts on the route collapsed, forcing an average 50,000 vehicles a day onto a narrow, hastily-built by-pass and frequently turning what should be a 45-minute journey into a four- or five-hour nightmare.

 

A new viaduct was opened in June 2007, but the problem is far from solved. The four kilometres of highway closest to Caracas are threatened by an active geological fault, as well as subsidence caused by inadequate drainage of slum housing on the hills above. The only permanent solution is a new highway, taking a different route, but work on that has yet to begin.

 

In ranking Maiquetia the region’s worst airport, readers of Latin Trade gave it the poorest marks for Location/Access as well as Customs/Baggage, Ease of Connection and Shops/Amenities.

 

Journey times, notes ...

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