December 2009 at Roatan’s Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport saw flight schedules increase to levels similar to 2008’s high season, reported Shanna Ebanks, airport manager. The airport is named for a former president of Honduras, and is also known as Roatan International Airport, with airport call letters RTB. In December, the airport received one new airline, several airlines returned that had suspended operations, and regular airlines increased their flight schedules to high season levels. “While it is impossible to cite exactly what factors led to what schedule changes,” said Ebanks, “things appear to be back to normal.” Since the airline industry operates strictly according to demand, the increased schedules suggest that tourism is climbing back to pre-2009 levels.
In 2009, travel to Honduras dropped significantly with a series of events that included a worldwide economic crisis, a swine flu scare in the Central American region, an earthquake off the coast of Roatan, and political tensions culminating in the Travel Advisory against travel in Honduras issued by the United States and several countries in Europe. This, combined this with the usual low season (officially September to November according to airport schedules), left the Bay Islands with record lows in tourist traffic.
Though traffic was down, improvements at the airport have been ongoing, with renovations to the 7,349 ft (2,240 m) runway completed in early 2009. The government-funded reconstruction project for grooving and repairing the runway began in October 2007, and work also continues on 6,000 square meters of the lighting system. The airport’s official hours are 6am to 8pm, although according to airport officials, currently all flights are completed by sunset due to the on-going work on the lighting system. InterAirports, the private management company and operator for the Roatan International Airport began an expansion of the platform on the East and West wings on December 9, 2009. The project is expected to cost Lps. 10,000,000.
SunWing is the newest of the airlines serving Roatan as of December 14, 2009. This charter flight flies direct from Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with three flights a week, all arriving on Mondays. The plane is a 737 Boeing with 189 person capacity.
Blue Panorama operates a 767 charter flight from Milan to Roatan on Tuesdays.
Continental’s high season schedule includes four flights per week on Thursday, Saturday (2 flights) and Sunday between their hub in Houston and Roatan.
Delta operates two flights per week on Saturdays between their hub in Atlanta and Roatan.
TACA International is operating two flights on Saturdays to their hub in San Salvador. The Saturday route to Houston was cancelled as of January 23. They also offer daily flights at 4:30 pm direct from Roatan to San Salvador.
CM Airlines began service to Roatan in April of 2009 with direct flights between Tegucigalpa and Roatan three times a week on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
Islena flies twice a day via La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.
LANHSA has resumed its air taxi service between Roatan and La Ceiba with seven flights per day in planes with 9 person capacity. The airline also services Guanaja, San Pedro Sula, and Puerto Lempira.
SOSA continues to service various locations in Honduras three times a day via La Ceiba. [/private]