One of the world's scariest airports is set for take off.
News of the relocation of Quito airport on the 19th of February, will be celebrated by travellers, Quito residents and travel insurance providers alike.
Mariscal Sucre airport, the gateway to the capital of Ecuador, is scheduled to be shifted from its current treacherous location to a more desolate, safer area outside the city. Sitting at 2800 metres above sea level, the high altitude diminishes aircraft performance, providing the first of many obstacles to pilots landing at Quito airport. Include the troublesomely cramped runway, nearby towering volcanoes that force a steep angle approach to a landing and you have one of Latin America's most hair raising airports. The original Mariscal Sucre airport was built in amongst cornfields back in 1960. Nowadays the area surrounding Quito is a sprawling of buildings with a population well over 2.2million. The consequence of the overlapping environments makes not just for nervous passengers but also a neighbourhood that is agitated with every takeoff and landing of the cumbersome aircrafts.
"The racket of the planes sometimes woke us at dawn," said Maria Davila a Quito resident who lives near the airport. But it's not just the noise that the residents are concerned about, "I often thought a plane would fall onto my house and kill all my family," said Mrs Davila. Since the airport opened it has seen 10 fatal accidents, with what the industry calls "Runway Excursions" where the plane has fallen short of the runway, plunging into the surrounding houses and structures, reports the Huffington Post.
At high altitudes aircrafts are forced to land at higher speeds and Quito's surrounding volcanoes force the aircraft to make a zigzag or corkscrew approach. "You have to think ahead of the airplane a lot" said Ivan Rivera, an American Airlines captain "You have to be aware that those mountains aren't forgiving" he said.
Well dodgy landings at exotic locations may be part of the adventure for many travellers, accidents and the costs that can arise from them will not be high on the list of experiences that many will be seeking when heading overseas. And despite the airport being relocated to a safer area, their are still numerous risks that are involved when travelling anywhere in Latin America and it is recommended to have a comprehensive travel insurance before heading on a South American adventure.
Have a question about travel insurance? Ask the gurus at Mozo Answers.