Rio Hato airport nears completion
photos by Wendy Reaman
The construction of the new Rio Hato airport is almost done. More properly speaking, it is a reconstruction of an old airstrip that was built by the US military during World War II and since then has gone through various phases of use and abandonment. It is intended to be a domestic and international airport, with the area’s fresh seafood and produce headed out toward the world’s markets and tourists coming in and out on charter flights.
The project is probably way over its initially stated budget, but these matters are guarded as state secrets by the current administration. As originally described the project would not have met international standards for airport security, but as you can see from some of the photos — especially those of you who know what the place looked like before — a far stronger set of security measures has been incorporated into the project and that would have driven up the cost.
In the immediate vicinity where airplane noise becomes a factor, property values may take a hit. However, it is expected that for the general area from about Coronado to Penonome, the convenience of a nearby airport will be a huge selling point and property values will appreciate. Much of that factor depends on whether international passenger service other than charter flights will connect Rio Hato to points abroad, and the extent to which the rebuilt airport will be conveniently integrated into the nation’s domestic air passenger systems. Certainly it would be more attractive for many foreigners to live in or visit Santa Clara by flying in and out without having to make the drive from Panama City.