Despite the current slowdown in some countries in the region, Latin America's strong economic performance during most of the last decade has led to growing demand for air travel. The successful reduction in poverty and the consequent expansion of the middle class have allowed new segments of the population to choose to fly.
Between 2005 and 2015, some of the 10 largest airports in the region achieved double-digit passenger growth rates. According to the latest projections of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Latin America will see annual growth of 3.8% in passenger numbers until 2035.
According to statistics from Airports Council International (ACI), more than 300 new international routes to and from Latin America and the Caribbean have been opened in the last five years. The Caribbean and Mexico have experienced the greatest growth in international routes outside the region, with 170 and 88 new routes, respectively.
This growth is exerting strong pressure on the available airport infrastructure. The resources needed for modernizing and expanding airports, or greenfield projects, are increasingly coming from the private sector through a variety of public-private partnership (PPP) models.
Some countries, such as Colombia and Chile, are already awarding new airport concessions - dubbed second generation - as the original ones expire, facing new challenges and incorporating necessary improvements. Together with PPPs for single projects, mainly for expansions and new international airports, concessions are also being awarded in the region for packages of airports, notably in Mexico and Peru.
Irrespective of the PPP model employed, private investment is seen as the best option to build airport infrastructure in many countries in the region.
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