In Venezuela, the first aircraft has touched down on the runway of the new airport on the outskirts of the capital, Caracas.
In Venezuela, the first aircraft has touched down on the runway of the new airport on the outskirts of the capital, Caracas. on Tuesday (8 August) the multi-million dollar terminal buildings were opened for service, although they are still not fully equipped to meet all the needs of travellers. Passengers might be impressed by the design of the buildings and the easy access to aircraft, but it will still be several months before they can buy a cup of coffee.
SYNOPSIS: Situated in Maiquetia, near the coast, the new airport stands near Caracas' old air terminal. The Simon Bolivar International airport --named after the 19th century pioneer of Venezuelan independence -- provides a startling contrast with the old airport. Its predecessor was basically an orange brick shed. The new terminal building won second prize in the New York Association of Engineers awards for airport design.
Although the airport is now in service, there is still no motorway link with the capital and travellers will have to accept the lack of facilities. Apart from the absence of restaurants, the building is situated in a drought area and there is not enough water for the air-conditioning, which consumes 18 litre (30.6 pints) a second.
The Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez Rodriguez was one of the first passengers to pass through the new airport lounge. He was returning from a visit to the Colombian capital, Bogota. The new terminus is designed so that after landing, travellers pass through immigration control, customs and the baggage hall, all on a single floor.
Five of the huge luggage conveyor belts have been completed and most of the departure gates already have adequate seating arrangements. When finished, the airport will be able to cope with 1,200 passengers arriving and boarding aircraft at the same time. Seven jets will be loaded simultaneously while seven more taxi round to the gates. Eventually, 3,000 passengers will be able to sit in the departure lounge -- and once all the wiring, plumbing and painting is completed, they will be provided with soda-fountain bars, restaurants and an automatic food vending complex.