Pres sets 18mth timeline for Concepción airport construction

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Honduras President Manuel Zelaya has committed to constructing in 18 months a new airport in western department Copán city Concepción, an official from public works ministry Soptravi's civil aviation department told BNamericas.

Although the aviation department must still complete a feasibility study for the project, it has "to get started, because it is a presidential order, and a desire of the president and the [western] area's inhabitants," said the official.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed in a short period of time, because while there was previously some indecision as to where to build the airport, all that remains now is "to revise the site, as well as security measures, and apparently the requirements to construct the airport" in Concepción, the official added.

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However, no firm has yet been selected to carry out the construction works, and no calls for bidding have been made.

A presidential commission, charged with taking the necessary legal procedures to begin the bidding process, will likely be formed in a meeting due next week.

All legal procedures and feasibility studies needed to call for bids will tentatively be ready within the next three months, estimated the official.

Besides the airport, the government will call for the construction of two highways connecting Concepción to the cities of Santa Rosa de Copán and Ruinas de Copán, President Zelaya said in an announcement.

Ruinas de Copán is one of the country's main tourist attractions for its Mayan ruins.

The highway leading to Santa Rosa will measure 8.5km, while the Ruinas de Copán route will measure 29.5km.

The total cost of the works will be around 200mn lempiras (US$10.6mn) and the government has already set aside 140mn lempiras, said Zelaya.

Despite the large number of US and European tourists arriving to the country's Atlantic coastal island of Roatán, relatively few come to visit the Copán ruins, "precisely because we don't have the necessary tourism infrastructure there," said the president.